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a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away….oh, oops. Wrong story. Well, it was a long, long time ago – I was 18 and lets just say I’m well past that age. And it was far, far away from where I live – the Himalayan Mountain range in Nepal, Pokhara to be exact (see image below, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Meph). I was doing a trek that some famous British monarch had done. It was December, rivers were swelling but there was snow in the upper mountains. One of our guides, called a “Sherpa”, told me about living in the valleys between these high mountains. He talked about the floods that washed down almost yearly with snowmelt, overwhelming the lake and the river banks. The people who live in the valleys just pick up and go into the mountains. Their life is disrupted by the floods, so why do they live in the valleys? Why not live in the mountains?

  
In the valleys is where the floods deposit great amounts of silt, making the soil rich to bear crops.  In this particular valley is where millions of tourists come to access hike trails into the Himalayas, just like we did. In the valleys is provision, shelter, and community.

The same is true of our spiritual lives. Most people look for the mountain-top experience. But what makes the view from the mountain so beautiful? Is it not the beauty of the valleys? Is it not seeing the bounty of nature set against the harsh barrenness of the rising rock?

See, I’ve come to discover that while the mountains are great for a time, the valleys are where true fruitfulness is born. It’s in the valleys of our life that we find creativity, passion, and purpose. It’s on the valleys of our lives that we find community and shelter from elements, even while we endure floods and dark shadows.

I’ve walked through a deep valley recently. Burnout, otherwise known as stress overload, is amazingly common. I see people teetering on its edge all the time, flirting it seems with it; bouncing from vacation to vacation trying to fight it. But burnout and its many cousins of trials and tribulations are really just valleys. If we pay attention in these valleys, God will bring us into new levels of creativity and fruitfulness. And this is the real reason we all get to endure valleys: God wants us to be fruitful and multiply spiritually. But fruitfulness doesn’t happen in the mountains, remember. It happens in the valleys.

Psalm 84 hit me like a ton of bricks a few days ago and a friend even shared it with me too, confirming this whole revelation I was undergoing.

Psalm 84: 4-7 (New Living Translation)

What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude. What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

If you are in a valley, just coming out of a valley, or maybe getting ready to enter a valley, ask yourself: “What is God trying to accomplish in me during this valley? What is he trying to either get out of me or put into me? What could he be trying to birth in me that will bring great impact to His Kingdom?”

Answering those questions is really the key to walking through the Valley of Weeping. Draw closer to God and He will tell you. He told me and now I’m writing a new fiction book series. I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to undertake that project had I not walked through the Valley of Weeping and been broken of a few things. So take heart, you are not alone; there is a purpose to the Valley of Weeping. Persist until you find it.

So, I’ve taken a really long break from blogging here as I’ve been busy in other creative endeavors: writing for our church, Bethel Cincinnati, on our blog (www.bethelcincy.org) and even more exciting news, writing my first fiction novel. But this morning in my devotional time, as I was struggling to wake up properly by listening to bluegrass and salsa music and reading in 1 Samuel, it hit me like a ton of bricks: blog inspiration! Let’s start with my reading, which is kind of long:

1 Samuel 8:4-20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible translation)

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah.
5 They said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have.”
6 When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the LORD.
7 But the LORD told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king.
8 They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods.
9 Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them.”
10 Samuel told all the LORD’s words to the people who were asking him for a king.
11 He said, “These are the rights of the king who will rule over you: He will take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots.
12 He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground or reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war or the equipment for his chariots.
13 He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
14 He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
15 He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants.
16 He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys and use them for his work.
17 He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants.
18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you’ve chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won’t answer you on that day.”
19 The people refused to listen to Samuel. “No! ” they said. “We must have a king over us.
20 Then we’ll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.”

Here was the issue: Israel wanted a king, like their neighbors. Now, lest we think we are any better than them, we want human kings too. Notice Samuel’s warning to them, they were not just asking for a king, but they were rejecting having the Lord God as their King. Only the Lord can be a perfect King, unaffected by greed, thirst for power and other such nasty attitudes and behaviors that human kings are subject to.

Samuel gave them a serious warning: taxes are coming, a draft for the army is coming, forced labor and conscription to serve his agenda, building big monuments and castles is coming. But even worse than that, when you, Israel, cry out from the injustice and thievery of the King, God won’t listen. Why? Because you asked for a king.

You see, when we reject a God as our King, someone else has to take His place. Humans are all too willing to be that. If you doubt me, just look around in our culture. Kings abound. There are kings of music, kings of industry, kings of fashion and I haven’t even started on government! Next year, we will be choosing a new President. If you ask people in other nations, they will tell you that every American acts like we are kings of the world and our leader is widely revered as the most powerful person in the world. Sounds like another King to me. But we have an issue- we are just like ancient Israel. When we disagree with our leaders and get angry about taxes, wars, labor pay rates, how much our leaders make a year and everyone else’s poverty, who do we really have to blame? Ourselves. We asked for a king and rejected Jesus as our rightful King.

What’s the solution? Jesus needs to be our King. We need revival in America so that righteousness and justice can be given an opportunity to change culture. Pray for our leaders to rule justly and without greed, yes. But even more importantly, pray for revival. Lord, come, we need you!

Question: Is Jesus your King or do you look to the kings and leaders of this world to rule you?

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