Keep me in the valley

Last week in a service in North Little Rock, the praise team was singing,

My God is awesome
Keeps me in the valley
Hides me from the rain
My God is awesome
Heals me when I’m broken
Strength when I’ve been weakened
Forever He will reign!

It was a beautiful service, a Wednesday night and the presence of God was so alive and real in that place. (Yes, He shows up even on a Wednesday night!)

I have heard that song many times and love it. So much strength and truth imparted in those words. But this time, I saw something different than I had before. Just like reading  God’s Word, even though you have read it 100 times, the Lord will show you something unique, if your heart is sensitive.

Keeps me in the valley.

Normally when we think of this phrase, and the valley, we are thanking God that He takes care of us in the valley. He walks with us through the valley, through our trials and tests. We compare the valley to difficult times and seasons and are grateful for a loving God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. All of this is true and relevant.

But what if the Lord KEEPS us IN the valley?

In other words, what if He wants us to STAY in the valley for a while? He keeps us there, not just taking care of us, but causing us to stop, to pause in the valley, in our circumstance so He can teach us.

Keep me in the valley

 

The valley is not always a place of doom and gloom; it is rich, lush and fruitful! There is water there, life-giving water for our body and soul. Many dictionary definitions tell us that a valley is a low area between hills, often with a river running through it. Water is life. Water is sustenance, strength and refreshing. Jesus said, “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14.

Why am I in the valley?

There are many reasons we could find ourselves walking through the valley. It could be all about spiritual warfare, our enemies are not flesh and blood, we are fighting principalities and darkness in the spirit world! It could be something that someone else has done that has put us in the valley. A rebellious teenager, a wayward loved one, a tragedy, financial distress, job loss; there are many things that may force us into a valley experience but we can overcome, and even prosper, through this temporary season.

Maybe we are the reason we are in the valley; possibly rebellion of our own, stubbornness, rejection, anger, jealousy, and even being unwilling to forgive. All of these will cause us to walk through the valley.

What is in the valley?

Jesus is there. Strength is given, wisdom is imparted. Knowledge is increased.

This is usually a quiet time; you can hear the whisper of the Lord because you are sensitive to His voice. You are listening for an answer, or possibly a Word, to understand your circumstance. If an understanding doesn’t seem to arrive, then rest in the confidence that He is in control and He is guiding you through this time of depth and richness in His presence.

There is Grace in the valley.

Forgiveness and renewal for past wrongs can all be taken care of in the valley! We take time to focus on our strengths and weaknesses, asking God to point out things that need to be dealt with…and we actually deal with them right then and there. “Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hill shall be brought low.” Luke 3:5. We can attribute this verse to the fact that when we conquer the valley there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We come out stronger and wiser than when we entered.

The valley is the only way to get to the mountain.

Once we are back on the mountain, we may realize why the Lord took us through that particular valley. It might not have been just for us! We may need that wisdom and experience in the future to help someone else through their own valley.

The valley is temporary.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Psalm 23:4. We don’t live in the valley, we walk through it. Sometimes it takes longer than we want it to, but rest assured, He is orchestrating it all.

You will have trouble in the valley if your faith is based on emotion instead of the Word of God.

Focusing on circumstances and feelings will only leave you frustrated and you will miss the beauty of walking alongside the Lord in the valley. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters.”  Psalm 23:2.

And the ultimate? “He restores my soul.”

Jesus KEEPS me in the valley to restore my weary soul! We cannot avoid heartache and suffering in this life but if we believe in Jesus Christ, we can approach the valley with confidence knowing He is not only there waiting but He will renew us, restore us and revive us; giving us a reason to dance on the mountaintop.

Are you going through a valley experience right now? Have you been through a difficult valley but overcame with the help of the Lord? Feel free to share with us how God is helping you to learn and grow through this season. Others will be strengthened by your testimony!

Kingdom2

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The Orphan Finds Mercy

A diverse group of ladies have been studying the Book of Hosea the past couple of weeks; a difficult passage in the Bible for all of us to read.  This book was not about Hosea and Gomer but it was all about God and Israel. It is also looked at as a typology of Christ and His Bride. Christ and YOU. When it is viewed in this manner, of God’s great love for us, for His Church, for each of us as individuals, we glean more than we ever imagined. Many of us are linking up today to share our thoughts at She Reads Truth, feel free to discover some more insight!

Hosea. His name alone means Jehovah is Salvation. He comes on the scene 700+ years before Jesus Christ with a divine calling so radical that most of us would make like Jonah and run. Sin is rampant. The list reads like an R rated movie: Stealing, killing, adultery, taking the Lord’s name in vain, drunkenness, deceitfulness, perversion, oppression, lying and much, much more. Jeroboam had brought back idol worship 150 years earlier when he set up the golden calves and he opened the door to human sacrifice, religious prostitution and every evil sort of idol worship.

“And now they sin more and more,
and make for themselves metal images,
idols skillfully made of their silver,
all of them the work of craftsmen.”
Hosea 13:2 ESV.

In the midst of all of this, God tells Hosea to marry Gomer, an adulteress, who would most definitely be unfaithful to him. Things are fine for a little while and together they bring their first child into the world. But Gomer becomes restless. Maybe she was bored, possibly longing for a more exciting lifestyle. A wife, mother, keeper of the home just might not have been on her list of life-long desires.

So Gomer strays with multiple affairs and Hosea is holding things together at home. They have another son (Hosea is sure this one does not belong to him) and then another (sadly, this one is born during her wanderings too!). But Gomer is not satisfied and she finally leaves for good.

Here Gomer parallels the prodigal son. She reaches the lowest of the low during her sinful escapades and is sold into slavery.

God steps in again.

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods.” Hosea 3:1.

What? Hosea has to PAY to get Gomer back!

Yet he does because he loves her and he is obedient to his God. How can anyone love like Hosea did? The verse above tells us that he was to love her: “Even as the Lord loves…”  He never stopped loving Israel, never stopped pursuing them and pleading with them to return, even in their idolatry.  He relentlessly goes after His bride.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:1-3 ESV.

the orphan finds mercy

To You, Lord, we return. We repent, put away our idols and come back to the One who created us.

Can we relate at all to the story of Hosea and Gomer, of Israel and the Lord? Have we wandered aimlessly, lost and ashamed, not knowing if we belonged any longer? Children without a father?

Yet there He was all along, pursuing us, pleading with us to come back, even in our idolatry. Relentlessly, He came after His Bride!

Hosea 14:4: “I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely.”

Do you feel like Gomer today? Have you slid backward so many times that you have fallen into slavery with the world?

Jesus is here. Only He has loved us with a love so fierce that He paid the ultimate price and bought us back! Never more to roam, but safe in His embrace, forevermore.

Though you have failed, you have fallen, time and time again, there is mercy.

Kingdom2

 

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