Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The valleys in our lives are no fun.
They aren't comfortable. They don't make us happy. But, they do serve an important purpose in our lives. Without them, we would not be able to look back from our hilltop to remember how faithful and true the Lord is.
You don't have to reach the mountain summit to benefit from surveying the valley. You just have to be one step closer to the top and be willing to look back at the past to see what you can learn from it.
One of my valleys - a place I surely didn't want to be - is a forever reminder to me of how God's provision may come to us differently than we expected.
I had a new baby. Just 6 months old. We had moved from Canada to Orlando because my mother died and my father had a severe stroke and we needed to be near to take care of my dad. We lived in a beautiful little house that was sparsely furnished, but it was comfortable. I had gained some weight after having my baby and none of my clothes would fit me. My sister in law came to me and said, "Karen, I know you don't have much to wear. I'd like to bless you if you will let me". She said one of the members of her church owned a beautiful clothing boutique in an exclusive area of town and she would like to send me there and let me pick out any outfit I"d like. I was so touched and very appreciative. Having come from an upper middle class home, I had never known want before. Being without money was new to me and I was afraid as a result. Having been able to buy whatever I needed before had made me spoiled. I was a bit hesitant to receive in the beginning, but she insisted. "No, I'm really okay. What a sweet offer, but I'm really doing fine." , I said. She pointed to the shabby sweatpants I had on and said, "I don't think these are fine, Karen." So, I decided to accept her blessing and be grateful. It would be so wonderful to have a nice dress to wear!
I went to the shop and it was just amazing! Not your typical department store clothes, but more like custom outfits that were very unique. It didn't take me long to know just what I wanted. I'm a business person, so suits were what I was used to wearing. I found a dress with a double breasted blazer......a black and white top attached to a pleated white skirt and a red blazer. It would be perfect and I could wear that blazer with all kinds of things! I had to wear it to church every Sunday. I wore it so much that two of the Elder's wives took me aside, in a very displeased way, and said I was sure getting good wear out of my dress. Hurt and embarrassed, I replied, "Ladies, that's why it pays to buy quality." I exited the building before a downpour of tears began to drench my face. I felt despised and alone.
One Sunday morning, as I ironed my dress in my office, I saw my baby in the other room joking on the floor and turning blue. I ran to get him and when I did I must have hit the ironing board and the iron fell onto my dress. I cleared my baby's mouth, stuffed full of crackers, and held him for a minute. Then, I smelled something burning and my heart sank. It was my dress! As fast as I could, I ran to the ironing board. There was my dress with an iron shaped hole in the front! My heart went to my throat and I dropped to the floor sobbing. It was all I had to wear to church.
The quiet voice of God spoke to my heart, "Turn the dress around. It's exactly the same on the back as it is in the front." I looked at it and it was! I cut the label off and there was one half of my dress totally fine! I could wear the dress with the red blazer over the hole in the back and no one would know. And, I did so on that Sunday and many Sundays to come. I also wore it to the bank presentations I gave as we pursued obtaining financing for our travel business. I used to sit in those meetings with a smile. The bankers just thought I was a positive woman, but I knew I was truly a THANKFUL woman......thankful to a God that would speak to my weary heart and say "Turn the dress around".
Have you ever had to "turn the dress around" in your life? If so, I'm praying you remember that moment as a reminder of God's faithfulness to us in all things. The Jews used to make gardens of stone to remember acts of God's faithfulness, placing a new stone each time God would move on their behalf. Is it time for you to build your garden of stones to thank Him for all He has done in your life? Then, you can stand from the hilltop, looking back at that valley He has brought you through with great reward and know how much He loves you.
Deuteronomy 7:9 .......Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.