Valley….What is a valley? A valley as defined in the dictionary is an elongated lowland or depression between ranges of mountains, hills, or other uplands, often having a river or stream running along the bottom. Hmmm…. Let me think now. Valley.
Let’s look at a mountain climbing expedition. In order to start climbing a mountain one would have to be at the base of a mountain in a valley. How do we reach the next valley? We have to ascend and then descend the mountain or hill in order to reach it. And what are we doing? We are climbing the mountains. In this journey, or expedition, we will meet up with other travelers along the way. Some of the travelers we will pass, some will pass us and others will be our companion for a while. One or two may be our life companions. The climbing will be solitary quite often.
As we descend into each valley, we will find many things. Communities where refreshment is, places of respite, campsites, fellow sojourners who are congregating, resting, sharing experiences, stories, comparing maps, etc.
There would be another group of people in the valley. They would be the inhabitants who have never left the valley. Those who are right there in front of our eyes. The ones who want something more and have been searching for a fuller life in the same valley all of their days. It never will have occurred to them to leave the valley to find what they need. Some will be dying inside because they just can’t figure out how to take that first step up the mountain or decide which mountain to climb.
Each valley will have different characteristics but I am convinced that every valley will have a “shadow of death” lurking in it and although it may not be the “valley of the shadow of death” for one person it will be the “valley of the shadow of death” as David spoke of in Psalm 23 for someone.
The valley of the “shadow of death”. I was in a valley with death in hot pursuit of me from all sides when God first rescued me. I had been there ever since the day I was born and I had searched for many years for the pathway that would lead me out of it. God had been trying to show it to me for many years until finally I trusted Him and allowed Him to lead me. It is not guaranteed that there will only be one valley of the shadow of death in our lifetime. For most of us there are more than one and we will need the Lord’s presence and guidance through each one.
That brings me to another part of the valley experience which is called testimony. I wonder, sometimes, if when people read bits and pieces of my testimony, if some may wrinkle up their nose or scratch their head and say, “Why in the world would she want to publicly publish something as ugly as that? What is her motive? Is she looking for a free handout or someone to feel sorry for her?” or “What are people going to think about her?”
I assure you that if you are one who is asking that question, I have struggled with the same when considering the possibility of sharing various parts of my testimony.
In the recovery process of my life and my life has literally been “a process of recovery” I have found that the valley experience of testimony is a part of that process. It is necessary. The question that I ask myself is this one: “Do I want to overcome?” My answer is always this one: “Yes, and again I say yes!” When I think of ever revisiting and being an inhabitant of the “valley of the shadow of death” that I was in, I know that I never want to inhabit that place again. I will do whatever it takes to overcome that darkness. The Lord then brings the following verse to mind…
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. “ Revelation 12:11
… and I know that I will walk through this very difficult thing again because it strengthens me everytime and it does the other thing that is so important to me which is minister to others.
Call it selfish if you like and maybe it is selfish to go back again and again but I want so badly to overcome and stay in that place of having overcome the past that I will do whatever He calls me to do to achieve that goal.
There are a lot of things that would not be a part of my testimony if I had surrendered to the Rescuer at an earlier stage in life. Every time that I share a part of my testimony I go back in my mind and revisit that dark place, that valley of the shadow of death where the sinister fingers of death had their grip on me and I am able to revisit the loosening of those grips and remember the rescue and the directing of the Lord to that path that led out of the valley into a new life. A life that has been hard in a lot ways but it has been free because death no longer holds me back.
Life is an adventure, now. Climbing up the mountains and all of the little perks that I pass and enjoy along the way. The mountaintop experiences and getting a distant glimpse of what I am going to see and experience next.
Testimony is only a part of the valley experience. It is a difficult part.
I do not put my past experiences out there because I am inviting any kind of pity. I place the raw truths of my testimonies out there in order to help others understand that no matter what they have gone through or what bad decisions that they may have made, they can overcome all of it and have a full and joyful life.
I have traded my ashes for His Beauty and what a Beautiful life it is!
Sharing my experience, strength and hope with you,
Love and Godspeed, EvieJo