Living in the Valley

It has been a few weeks since I wrote a faith post. My husband and I went on a vacation to visit places and people in Wisconsin. It was an enjoyable trip, but I didn't have much time to write. While it is fun and important to get away, the reality is that we live in the ordinary moments of life much more often than in the extraordinary moments. Who doesn't want to live on the mountaintop, but most of us spend the majority of our time trudging through the valley bottom. 

Devil's Lake State Park

Let me say, the valley bottom is not the pristine, green grass, river filled valley. No, it is the valley that runs between two rugged, rocky cliffs and there is no water in sight for miles. Overhead the vultures are constantly circling, waiting for the valley dwellers to stumble and fall so they can begin to feed off their soon to be dead bodies. Not a pretty picture.

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.
— Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest - March 6th

I love this thought from Oswald Chambers. He says it takes more grace and a more concentrated effort to draw on Him to take the next step in living the ordinary, mundane life, than to preach the gospel. What do you think? Do you agree? 

I have been finding life more and more challenging lately. My energy level is lower, I have physical issues that I never had to deal with before and I am continually reminded, not only of all the things I need to do, but also of all the things I have absolutely no control over. These factors all become part of life in the valley. Living here in the valley becomes a matter of trudging, not running, or skipping or even walking. Every once in a while, it becomes a crawl, a begging on hands and knees with the Master of this land to come and either let it end or bring about some sort of change. It was from this prostrate place that Oswald realized the thoughts he shared in the quote above. It truly does take the grace of the Almighty to take the next step.

Pixabay

Pixabay

I know, without a doubt, that some of you are in this place. Just like me, you go to bed so exhausted, that you pray God will take you in your sleep, so that you don't have to get up in the morning. Some of you, don't sleep. He doesn't even give you that. But, you do get up in the morning and you start all over again...the walk, the stumble, the crawl. You feel like you could use time away, a retreat, but there is no retreat. You feel like you could use a good, long cry, but you know the tears won't change anything, besides you are too busy, too tired. You feel like you want to run away, to leave everyone and everything behind, just go somewhere and become someone different, but you know that is not the right thing to do and you are just too tired. Day after day, drudgery after drudgery. This is life in our valley.

BUT GOD!

No enthusiasm?

BUT GOD!

No one noticing?

BUT GOD!

No encouragement?

BUT GOD!

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
— 2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.
— Psalm 121 (NASB)
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
— Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

I know life can be overwhelming, but God is not overwhelmed by it. We've heard it before, but I need to hear it again. Peter walked on water, though the stormy waves raged all around, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. If you are down and out by life, look up. Jesus will always meet you exactly where you are at. 

Remember, we are all together in this valley. 

 

Confession Time

There are days when I am working on this blog that I feel pretty good about what I'm putting out there. Most days, however, I feel pretty overwhelmed. I thought, why not share with all of you some of my struggles. After all, aren't we in this together? Maybe you are a blogger also. What made you start your blog? Was it your fantastic body of knowledge and information; knowledge that you wanted to share with anyone who would listen? Maybe it was your desire to help others. That is always an honorable reason. Or maybe you are like me. Maybe you've been through some things. Maybe you have felt feelings you never thought you would feel, or have experienced hurts so deep you didn't think you would survive. But here you are! You have survived, and now you feel, maybe something that you went through might make a difference for someone else. I mean, wouldn't all of it be worthwhile if it made a difference in some other person's life?

Photo credit -  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit - Rebecca Trumbull

What if it doesn't? What if we never have one word back of encouragement or positivity about what we are doing? What if no one ever thanks us or says, "Wow! I really needed to hear that today," or "You gave me such good ideas about what to do with that sweater in my closet." I'm human. Of course I want to hear those things. I want to know that all the writing, thinking, rummaging through my closet to create outfits is actually worth while. This is not a plea for you to pat me on the back and tell me what a good job I am doing...although you could comment in the comments section below....ha, ha!  No, this is more a confession that I do not have it all together! 

When I read other blogs, I think, "Oh my goodness! How do they do it all? They work jobs, have families, make money on their blogs, network, write for e-zines and journals, have already published a book...." Well, you get what I'm saying. They do it all and look amazing while they are doing it. That is not me. You might think I have it all together, but I don't. I struggle more often than not with why I am even doing a blog. Aren't there a zillion other good writers out there? Aren't there a zillion and one beautiful fashion bloggers, who already have thousands of subscribers? How is my one little voice and my one little opinion going to make a difference?

I'll tell you how....one person at a time. 

When Jesus walked the shores of Galilee, he spent most of his time with a small group of men who became his closest companions and followers. While Jesus did his fair share of teaching to large crowds, his most memorable encounters were with individuals. Think about the woman at the well, the man with leprosy, the blind man, the lame man, the boy with the loaves and fishes. Each of these individuals was personally influenced and touched by Jesus. Jesus never worried about how many people he was getting his message out to. He lived to do His Father's will and to glorify Him. 

StockSnap -  Zukiman Mohamad

StockSnap - Zukiman Mohamad

If you are like me you have a passion to write. You may even believe that God has given you both the ability and the desire. If that is the case all that is left is obedience. I truly want to glorify God. Do I always do it? No. But it is my heart's desire. Would I also like to make a living writing? Oh yeah! Would I also like to know that the message I am writing makes a difference? Yes, of course. But, when the doubts come and I want to give up, it is not my desire to make a difference or my message that keeps me going it is obedience. I want to stand before God one day and hear Him say, "Well done!"

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men
— Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

I love that verse and often find myself repeating it. Whatever you do, whether it be chores in your home, taking care of kids, grandkids or aging parents,  your tasks at work, writing a blog post or taking pictures, remember who you are doing it for. Yes, making a difference is awesome, but the reason we do what we do is for Him. 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
— Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

God knew we would get weary. Doing good can be hard work. It can be long hours, mentally and emotionally exhausting and thankless. He knew this, but He knows the end result. He knows that one person who came to Him because you posted your testimony. He knows that one lady who saw your article on dressing for work and got a job because she followed your advice. He knows that struggling wife who decided to start praying for her husband because of what you shared about your own marital struggles. He knows in due time you will reap the beautiful and bountiful harvest if you don't lose heart. 

StockSnap -  Ray Hennessy

StockSnap - Ray Hennessy

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
— Isaiah 40:28-31 (NASB)

Another of my favorite passages! Even if we are weary and tired and thinking we should chuck it all out the window, whether it be blogging, parenting, being a spouse, a friend or a worker, He does not grow weary and He will give us strength.