My husband and I walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my mother-in-law late this year. We were actually walking through the valley during most of 2012 but, thankfully, we didn’t realize that fact. We prayed for her healing. We laid hands on her. We contended. We believed He would deliver her from her nemesis, cancer. He did, just not in the way we prayed. He is seeing to it that this trial is not wasted as He ushered her into His presence late in the year 2012. Hallelujah, she is at peace now and she is free.
In the midst of it all, He is instructing me. We are still grieving yet He is revealing, ever so gently, these recent events so I might see Him and His plan more fully. I needed correction and through this strange valley of darkness, mountains so high on either side that there is no escaping, He administered His lessons. I am broken and hurting at His tenderness in showing me the unkind place I have become too cozy in. Too familiar with the spirits of this world, I hid in their midst. The tentacles of unhealthy attitudes twisted their way into my world, causing me to become completely at home in sin. And in the darkness of the unearthly valley, He showed me the error of my way. I look up. It is the only way out. There will be no meandering out of this place.
Sin. I never saw it coming until it slid down the slopes of the valley and we collided on the passageway leading out. The wreckage was not so surprisingly covered up. God was faithful however, in tenderly coming alongside and lifting corners of the veil so I could see what was underneath. He was persistent, this Lord of mine, in continuing to urge me to take a closer look, that I might understand.
The defining moment came in a confrontation with my brother-in-law. I thought I was going to bring the Light into his life due to the profound ways in which my Lord brought about the encounter, me wanting to share some of the weighty and remarkable things concerning his mother’s last days. Yet it was in a confrontation that God chose to reveal myself to me. This moment causing me to come face to face with the darkness of my own world, revealed by a clash with the one person I would most not want my humanity exposed to. And yet, there it was…words coming out of my mouth that betrayed my own pride, intolerance, and judgment.
Heartbreaking, mournful, gut-wrenching are the only words that describe the moment when you fully understand the depth of your own sin and how utterly disgusting you are to the God who loves you most. “I’ve failed you Lord,” I cry out. He answers, “You are my child and I love you.” At another time, I would have melted with His words, but in this moment I am heartbroken with the realization of my sin. How could I have been so blind?
The days following have been difficult to traverse as I place one foot in front of the other, coming up from the depths of the valley. The grieving for a loved one is one thing, the grieving for my own soul is another. But I will keep coming up, however long it takes because I know just one thing to be true. My Lord loves me like no other and He will use this trial to full advantage. I can already see His hand in the midst of the darkness and torment that the enemy of my soul meant for destruction. My God will have His way…because all my hope is in Him.
I hear Him, in a very soft impression. “Keep coming up, keep looking up. Continue on as I place your feet on the path. A new year is waiting,” He tells me. “Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy in His dwelling place.” I Chron. 16:27. I can see the peaks above the valley floor, the place where He lives, and I will continue coming up…there’s nowhere else but up!
“Christ in you brings hope of all the great things to come.” Col. 1:27. I hear His words of old and also the new, “A new year is waiting.” I am comforted – and encouraged – by Jesus, lover of my soul.