Thursday, May 29, 2014

Valley Living (Blog Hop with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study)

"I will set pines in the
the fir and the cypress
so that the people may see and
may consider and
that the hand of the Lord
has done this,
the Holy One of
Israel has created it."
~Isaiah 41:17-20

I grew up in the Tucson valley, a desert dweller from birth. On every side of our dusty town stood stately mountains in shades of purple and blue. My heart favored the range to the north, with her familiar jagged peaks and her promise of green trees and cooler weather. In 30 minutes you could drive up her climbing road, leaving the prickly wasteland for the comfort of "real trees" on (what felt like) the top of the world. The scripture above reminds me of the desert, and the respite in the mountains for those who live in the valley.

Living as a desert dweller in the valley wasn't difficult. But it was sometimes hard. After all, there is the heat, and the thorns, and the slithery animals.  Seasons don't change with significant signs of showy bloom or vast changes in temperature. Occasionally the winds blow storms in, covering everything in dust, while prayers for rain are whispered.

As far as the calendar is concerned there are four seasons, but in the desert, seasonal variant is not a pendulum given to sway. It's range, in temperature and color, is subtle at best. The desert valley has a beauty of it's own, but you mustn't look too closely, lest you get poked. So, when I was young, I would look to the mountains and pine away, for a life lived on mountain tops.

And so it is spiritually, when I find myself in a season of dryness; when the work is tough and dry winds make vision fuzzy. 

King David, long before he wore a crown, tended sheep in a valley. He toiled and cared, and waited on the Lord. He had brothers who thought him too small, and his work not important.Yet, with his eyes on the Lord, he did what he was called to do. And when the time came for him to fight a giant named Goliath, it was David's strength in the Lord that won.

The Bible is full of lessons in the valley. There is battle and beauty there-- a breeding ground for dependance on the Lord. It is Him alone who quenches our thirst when living in arid lands. When the day is long and the scenery the same; when unrelenting heat presses in and discouragement settles in like so much dust, we can remember our True Strength, and cling to Him. He is the same God who turned a Valley of Trouble to a door of hope.  He can do that with our valleys too.

Twenty years ago I moved from the desert, to a little yellow house set in the piney woods, but He's never called me out of the valley. I can visit the mountaintops for refreshment and rest, but my strength is born when I focus on Him in the battles and beauty of valley living. 

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.
 God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.
  God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

P31 OBS Blog Hop


Collette Sawyer said...

Very nicely shared. Those times in the valley seem to be where we really grow and become close to God. What a treasure it is when we learn to value the times and lessons learned in the valley. Makes those mountain top experiences so much sweeter. Loved the scripture from Psalms. The Message translation really brought it to life. Thanks for sharing.

lojecu said...

Beautiful post! I lived in Flagstaff when I was in Highschool. Loved the contrast of the valley and the mountains. I now live the the Albuquerque area and again we have the valley, high desert, and mountains very close by.

Lydia said...

This was so beautiful!! Psalm 121 has always been near and dear to my heart. My mother would read it to us every day when were growing up. What beautiful pictures, too! Thank you for sharing.

Gretchen said...

As these words sink into my soul, two thoughts come to mind: 1) We were created by a God who loves beauty. 2) Your writing is masterful. And beautiful.

Anonymous said...

You write so eloquently, absolutely loved reading your post. Insightful, empowering and the psalms are indeed beautiful. Thank you for sharing those verses they so apt to your story. I have holidayed in the Tuscany, drove up from valleys so we could take in the beauty and it's indeed beautiful. I pray that you would continue being humbled in your valleys and enjoy the mountain moments too! Blessings!