Thursday, January 14, 2010

the valley vs. the mountain top

So, what do you do when you hear the words "I'm sorry, we have to let you go..."?  I experienced those words for the first time in my life yesterday when my boss told me I was no longer needed at the company where I have worked for 10 years. It wasn't at all what I thought it would be. I was not surprised, I was not overwhelmed, I just had this terrific sense of peace and - relief!

My job industry is changing. I have worked in Print Production for 25 years and it is now becoming something that is not necessary in our ever-changing world. Everything is moving into the electronic age - web, blogs, social media - the very things I enjoy are the things that have eliminated my job. Isn't that ironic...?

But, on to other-more important things...I've been thinking a lot about something I heard recently. The question is this...why is everyone always yearning to be on the mountain top when the valley is really where all the good things happen? It's a good question. The top of the mountain is cold and barren, nothing grows there, the winds blow relentlessly, the air is beyond cold and the ground is hard, treacherous, steep and dangerous. The only good thing about the mountain top is the spectacular view. It's true - on a clear day you can see forever.

However, in the valley things are protected, the soil is rich for growth, the sun shines, the rain falls and seeds are nourished, they thrive, they grow - albeit slowly.

I find myself, at this very moment, in the valley. I feel as if circumstances have changed around me so I am at that point where my life's soil is rich for growth, for seeking new things, for hearing and learning the lessons that God is teaching me. It terrifies me!

Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, is one of my favorite books. She has a character, Much Afraid, who is crippled and yearns to be with the Shepherd in the "high places." He leads her there but does not send her on the most direct path. He also provides companions to help her along the way. She gets to the foot of the mountain only to see that the path leads her into a valley - she is disappointed. Through another portion of the journey she crosses the valley only to run into the steep cliffs she doesn't feel capable of climbing. She is angry. However, the Shepherd, once again, detours her along another path - one not so steep but a little longer to her destination. Along the way of her adventure, she runs into all kinds of things that threaten her journey - fear, envy, selfishness, anger, pride, disappointment. But, she learns that the Shepherd sent her companions to cling to when those things block her way. And, His presence and help are only a whisper away. And, she learns that the mountain top is a destination but the journey is what is worthwhile.

So, I find myself in a valley, like Much Afraid - anxious to move to the mountain top where I can see clearly the path that has been laid out for me. I know the mountain top is a fleeting moment - although an exilarating one. And, I want my time in the valley to be worthwhile so I can grow, learn, and become all that God wants me to be. I'm praying I can remember that His presence and help are only a whisper away.

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