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Valleys and Mountains

Life is full of obstacles. Some you see coming from a distance, while others hit you out of no where like a Mack truck. Usually we talk about difficulties as if they are “valleys”. In other words, a valley is a low point in your life. Perhaps a “low” point in your life is when your spouse left you. Maybe you lost your job or have been deeply disappointed by someone in life. It could be that you are just stuck in a rut, deep in a pit, or possibly even digging your own grave. Whatever your valley moment is, maybe it’s causing you to just feel absolutely far from God and unable to climb out on your own. Some valley moments in life don’t even seem to have a way out. While you know Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), you’re not so concerned with yesterday and tomorrow – you need Him today!

The opposite of a valley experience is a mountaintop experience. We have all faced the mountaintop experiences in life and love them far greater than the valley times. At the end of every valley is the beginning of a mountain you have to climb. Climbing a mountain can be challenging and isn’t any easier than climbing out of a valley. If you ever stop climbing, you start plateauing and entering valley life again. No one reaches the top without effort. You will not get out of your valley without climbing, and you cannot scale the mountain without climbing.

When you are at the bottom, sometimes all you can think about is surviving. When you are approaching the top, all you can think about is thriving. But here is the irony – both surviving and thriving, valley and mountain experiences, are extremely hard. What’s encouraging about that pastor? While hard, they are not impossible and everyone is capable of greater. At no point in life will it get easier. We have this fantasy of the American Dream that is always out of reach. It is in the middle of the climb we truly find fulfillment and peace in life. You see when you begin to climb out of the valley you are also beginning to climb to the mountaintop. God didn’t call us to this life to breathe easier. He called us to follow Him through valleys and mountains which will leave us breathlessly in awe of Him.

So what is the mountaintop we must have in view? Nothing but Jesus. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Isaiah 40:4 gives us hope. “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” When we focus on Jesus instead of our situation He makes the valley experience easier and the mountain experience less strenuous. We only gain hope in our trials through faith in Jesus. His grace will fill up your valley and bring low your mountain – but you still have to climb.

Don’t lie down in your valley and die. Don’t stop climbing your mountain. The moment your valley turns into a mountain is when you take the first step toward Jesus. Psalm 40:1-2 say, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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