God of the Valley

 

The “valley.”  It can be described as a wilderness, trial, testing, transition, grieving a loss. If you’ve been following Jesus for any length of time, you can attest to God encounters in the valley, and you have surely found Him to be faithful at all times, right?

I’ve hesitated as well, when asked that question or hearing someone’s joyful testimony and being somewhat tentative in my agreement.

Undoubtedly we are called to a glorious journey with Jesus. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Glory, then more glory; that’s the sequence. There are a couple of variables however.

Unveiled and beholding, are two key components to ever increasing transformation and glory.

The unveiling is not only our seeing God with more accuracy and understanding, but also seeing ourselves in like manner.

Self-awareness is one of the most accurate reflections of God-awareness. In other words, going deeper in knowing God will always entail going deeper in knowing oneself.

 

Traversing the In-Between

 

Regular readers may recall my first blog of 2024: Transition: Entering the In-Between. An excerpt: In his book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, author William Bridges states, ‘Things end, there is a time of fertile emptiness, and then things begin anew.’ It’s no question that we live a lifetime of transitions. We can all attest to the experience of discomfort that comes when we feel the fracture in the continuity of our lives. Endings are going to come, as are new beginnings, but first we must traverse the in-between.

Our entire Christian journey is a pilgrimage; all of life is “in-between”, living in this present age while eagerly anticipating the age to come. Yet there is the current narrative of our lives, my story and yours, which our beloved Author is writing. Successful transition is connecting the dots and being willing to do the hard work of the middle.

 

Comfort Over Calling

 

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. Ex. 32:1

Waiting in the wilderness, travel time in the valley, has great potential to build character along with the temptation to find other options to shorten the journey. A part of the worldly culture that God’s people were exposed to was the Egyptian deity “Apis”, which the golden calf resembled. Seeing something tangible in Moses’ absence was too good to pass up. Once we get trapped there, an altar gets built and it’s a very slippery slope.

Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Ex. 32:5

The God of the Valley understands our propensity to gather around sources of comfort. False hopes may bring temporary relief but they are extremely unreliable and never worthy of an altar.

 

God’s Storyboard

 

Israel’s plundering of the gold and wealth of Egypt was on God’s storyboard centuries ago.

As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. Gen. 15:12-14 Two hundred years later, God’s word was fulfilled. Israel left captivity rich in God’s provision.

It is the opinion of some that one reason for all of the precious metals God provided was because they would be needed in building the Tabernacle in the wilderness. This has proven out time and again for me.

Every component of my wilderness journey will be used in His future craftsmanship of my life.

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Ex. 25:8-9

Dressmakers and woodworkers buy patterns to craft their projects. It’s amazing the patterns that God reveals when He has my full, undivided attention. 

The wilderness has been known to deal with distractions and lethargy in one’s pursuit of God; safeguarding His intended storyline.

God is very exacting about following patterns.

 

Becoming Holy

 

The God of the Valley has a transportation system in the wilderness which He’s been implementing for years.

Waters shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert… a highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness…the redeemed shall walk there…they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Is. 35:8

God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. Heb. 12:10

Every parent knows this dance. We are called to train up our children. Prov. 22:6  We are to shelter and protect them from the world and from themselves. Our joy is seeing them take the reins of this process as they grow up, to surrender to the Father’s training and learn the terrain of this highway. Becoming holy is truly the pathway to true joy and gladness in life.

Discipline is the proof of being a child of God. Heb. 12:7-8  We do our children no favors when we short-circuit the maturation of true joy while trying to ensure that they are always feeling happy and never having to endure hardship. Aaron made that grievous mistake in the wilderness, keeping everyone happy with less than God’s best. They were beholding the glory of God but remained veiled to their true heart condition. They missed out on experiencing the pleasure of God. 1 Cor. 10:5

 

Finding Delight

 

Perhaps the Bible character best known for enduring hardship is the man Job. He had great favor and joy in his life at the beginning of his story and in the final chapters. In-between was an adventure, an extremely challenging one; the hard work of the middle.

Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling… But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread… But I am not silenced by the darkness [of these woes that fell on me], Nor by the thick darkness which covers my face. Job. 23:2,3,10-12,17

I believe that one of Job’s friends had some great insight. The Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. Job 22:25-26

The God of the Valley not only transforms and purifies us as gold, but He IS our gold.

 

Genuine or Imitation?

 

Imitation gold is also known as composition gold. It is made to imitate the appearance of gold and is made from a combination of copper, zinc, and brass. Practically speaking, it is less expensive to obtain and you get a lot more for your money, upfront. But due to the high content of copper, it is prone to tarnish. Heat is always a good test. Genuine gold will not be compromised, but the counterfeit, imitation gold, will show discoloring.

Fire is always the best test to establish value and worth.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold, though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Pet. 1:6-7

Much praise, glory, and honor, will be my portion when I see my Lord face to face. Because when life called for endurance, I endured.

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 1 Cor. 10:3-6

The God of the Valley is the God of the cross.

Jesus knows wilderness and He knows thirst. Jn. 19:28

Jesus knows YOUR thirst.

 

NOTE:

For more thoughts on this topic check out my videos.

 

 

 

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