- Rick LoPresti
God of the valleys
The worldwide flood which occurred in the days of Noah significantly altered many things about the earth. Part of what occurred is described in Psalm 104:6-10. It says that God commanded the waters to recede, and new mountains and valleys were formed. There were mountains and valleys before the flood (Gen 7:19-20), but the combination of the fountains of the deep opening up and the 40 days of rain, as well as other forces which were probably at work such as earthquakes and volcanos, dramatically altered the face of the earth. There is significant scientific evidence to support that what the Bible describes did occur. Most scientists admit this, but the atheistic evolutionists have to alter their interpretation of the evidence enough so that they do not affirm the scriptures. Howbeit, no one denies the existence of mountains and valleys.
The Bible says much about mountains and valleys, both literally and spiritually. Mountains can symbolize high points in our journey through this life. Valleys can represent low points. We prefer to think about mountain top experiences where we have joy and victory. People prefer to recollect and admire the accomplishments of successful mountain climbers than those who managed to cross a desert. Many people know who Sir Edmund Hillary is. He, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, were the first people to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth, on May 29, 1953. This feat did nothing to save the lost souls of humanity, heal the sick, feed the poor, or make any other real contribution to the world, but to this day his accomplishment is celebrated because we admire the adventurer, the explorer, and the person who does what nobody has done before. There are statistics kept on every aspect of performance by professional athletes, and when a record is broken the sports world celebrates their accomplishments. Professional sports is basically nothing more than a form of entertainment, but much attention and money is devoted to the exploits thereof. What we rarely see reported in the news is the years of relentless training, practice, discipline, and sacrifice it takes for these people to reach these heights of accomplishment. We celebrate the final score that wins the championship, but we do not hear about thework it took to arrive at that moment. Even the Bible talks about the discipline it takes to succeed as an athlete, and relates it to the walk of a Christian. Paul's letters contain many references to sports as allegories for what it takes to be a Christian. We all like to stand on the mountaintop, but few like to consider the valleys.
According to various websites, about 20-25 percent of the land on earth is mountainous. According to Wikipedia.com, while 7% of the land area of Earth is above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft), only 140 million people live above that altitude and only 20-30 million people above 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) elevation. That means that 75% of the land on earth is not mountains, and that only 0.4% of the entire human race lives in high mountains. Most people spend most of their time in valleys, not on mountains. It is difficult to breathe, build habitations, grow food, keep livestock, find sources of water, and do just about everything practical to sustaining life, in mountains. When people climb Mt. Everest, they can only spend a few minutes on the summit if they reach it at all. After years of preparation and training, and spending a lot of money, their celebration actually occurs when they are safely back below at base camp. There is so little air at the summit, and the conditions are so harsh, that even the fittest people cannot survive there very long. Mountain tops are not where we spend the majority of our lives. It is in valleys.
This is not meant be discouraging or depressing. It is meant to help us learn to value the valleys for what they do for us. Valleys are not just symbols of adversity. As stated, most of the activities we do to sustain life do not occur in mountains. They occur in valleys. Valleys are where our sustenance comes from. Valleys give us a stable, even, safe place to build our lives. Traveling through mountains requires short intervals of intense activity, while traveling through valleys requires a steady, slower, even pace. It seems that traveling through mountains is more exciting than traveling through valleys. When I drove from the Los Angeles area to Chicago in 1990, I bought fresh batteries for my music player to keep me occupied. The first two days I did not need it because the beautiful scenery of the mountains kept my attention. Once I hit the huge valley east of the Rockies, I needed every bit of energy those batteries held. There was not much to look at in Nebraska and Iowa unless you find flat corn fields fascinating. Yet when my stomach is growling and I sit down to eat, I appreciate the food grown in that valley very much, and the beautiful views of Colorado cannot help me much then.
In 1Kings 20, the nation of Syria attacked the northern kingdom of Israel and layed siege to the capitol city of Samaria. A prophet went to Ahab the king of Israel and told him God would give them the victory. The Syrians were supremely confident in their ability to win this war, so when they lost, they tried to find an explanation. So they blamed it on the fact that the battle took place in the mountains. They said the God of Israel was a god of the hills, but if they fought in the valley, their god could not help them there. God sent a prophet to Ahab and told him that because the Syrians accused Him of being unable to help His people in the valley, He would again ensure their victory, and He did.
In Luke 3, John the baptizer came to prepare the people for the soon coming ministry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Isaiah 40 is quoted as being fulfilled by John. "As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." They did not have paved roads or modern vehicles back then. Traveling was much more arduous, as it still is in many places today. When someone important like a king would come through, they would make the road as passable as possible by leveling off the bumps and filling in the holes in preparation for his coming. This is in part what the people were doing when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-11). They laid clothes and palm branches on the road top make the path smoother for Him as a way of acknowledging who He is. This was also the fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy (Zech 9:9).
Our road through this life will have both mountains and valleys. We need to embrace the process of the whole journey, although some parts are not as enjoyable as others. Jesus is the King, and not us; but He will go before us to prepare our path for us. He sees His people as kings who will reign with Him (2Tim 2:12, Rev 1:6, Rev 3:21, Rev 5:10, Rev 20:6, Rev 22:5). This was the original place God meant for man (Gen 1-2), and He will restore His people to that place. He said He was going ahead to prepare a place for us (Jn 14:1-6). The mountains that seem to stand in our way, and the high place of the pride of our own heart, will be leveled for His will to be done. The Lord said, "verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Mt 17:20)." Also see Matthew 21:21. All of the low places of discouragement, emotional depression, and doubt will be filled in so we will no longer fall into those ditches. He will wipe all tears from our eyes (Rev 7:17, Rev 21:4). He will turn the valley of weeping into a well of water (Ps 84:6). Even the devil knows that the Bible says, "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone (Mt 4:6).