Excerpted in part from God Visits In the Valley from 2/09 ~
"As a babe in the womb, I was in church. My parents were in full time ministry so, naturally, my mother carried me to church from the very beginning. But it was not only in church that I learned about praying and hearing God's voice."
Because my parents were in full time ministry up until 2 years ago, so much of who I am and how I deal with life is a direct result of living life in a parsonage. Just like anyone else, there is the good, the really good, the bad and the real bad. Having said that, I realize some children have lives that are most often in the real bad category. And for that, I am so sorry. A person's 'filter' is greatly influenced by the growing up years. For better. For worse. That is life. And if I had to change anything, there would be only a few things here and there. So that is good and I am grateful.
"It was under the tutelage of both my parents (at church and at home) that I learned to pray and listen to God. I grew up hearing my father call my name in prayer as well as the names of my brothers and our church family. Many afternoons I came home from school to hear my mother from her bedroom crying out to God on behalf of our family and church members. Hearing your parents pray and shed tears like that changes who you are. It stays with you. And their sharing the things that God impressed on them as a result of their devotion and prayer led me to want to pray and hear from God, too."
Church Family ~ we had a lot of 'church family.' My dad was one of those pastors who got called upon to move across country and 'fix' a problem. One problem he 'fixed' meant that at one place we only stayed 3 months. God graced my dad to use humor in the pulpit to help heal a church who had just gone through a devastating split. The Holy Spirit worked through Dad and Mother and the balm of Gilead was worked through the church in that "merry heart" kind of way. Please know that I am literally talking about people in the pews laughing at my dad's "funnies."
(From kindergarten - 12th grade, I lived in 10 different cities in 7 states ~ I think that's right. I may have "new girl" syndrome, too. Oh well. Everybody has a story and mine has some funny parts.)
"I have noticed in my life, and that of other Christians, that walking through a valley often results in a desperation to know HIM more and to hear from HIM ~ to follow hard after HIM and to lean heavily upon HIM. It is while walking through my own valley recently, that I have sought HIM more desperately, and heard HIM more clearly."
The valley I walked through last year this same time would be a welcome exchange from the one I walk now. To be honest, some days I am not really walking...I am sitting in a fog. I am screaming when no one else is home, my hot face pressed to the relief of cold tile floor. I am trying to get my breath. I am trying not to get too defensive even though I am rubbed raw by the "stuff" that came with cancer in a young son's brain that resulted in his death. (But...I think I get an "F" or maybe a "D-" on the defensive part.)
I understand how a dash of salt in well meaning words stings even though that was not the dasher's intent. One thing is certain in this valley, too, I want HIM. My heart longs for HIM. A friend, who is currently walking through a horrible valley herself, told me a few weeks ago that my "grief is too loud for me to hear HIM." This same message came from two sources who do not know each other. I think it is true and there is no sting.
"The 23rd Psalm speaks of walking through a valley.
Notice how the psalmist goes from talking about God: 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down; He leads me; He restores…'to talking to God.
'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; You are with me; Your rod and staff comfort me; You prepare a table; You anoint my head with oil...' "
While we would seldom, if ever, choose the valley, it is often a valley experience that enables us to go deeper with God.
It is as if God says, 'I've been expecting you; let’s visit.' And so like any good host, He prepares a table (v. 5a) and he refreshes his guest (v. 5b). The anointing oil of verse five is not the priestly anointing oil, but the Oriental perfumed oil ~ a sign of favor and excellent hospitality."
I have thoughts on why things are allowed in this life but I will not attempt to write about that in any kind of depth. I am in a place where I realize I may change my mind about some things in 6 weeks or 6 months. This is all I will say about it: When Adam and Eve sinned and the earth was cursed, I believe that evil in all of its forms was then allowable. Sin and its fall-out, including disease, was allowed with that first bite of disobedience. So I am not convinced that things are either "allowed" or "dis-allowed" on a case by case, person by person, basis.
However, I am THANKFUL, FILLED WITH GRATITUDE, that the Second Adam, Jesus, took the whipping ("chastisement" ~ Isaiah 53:5) for our peace.
"If you find yourself walking through a valley, pull up a chair, sit down, and visit with God. He has a table ready and he’s an excellent host."
Pull up a chair...or just lie on the ground with a stone (or a tile floor) for your pillow. Either way HE is already there. And HE is most excellent.
If you should care to read the original post, it is here. (photo ~unknown source)