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.