Mountaintop…or valley?

A friend of mine loaned me a wonderful little book titled Meditations for Misfits because we had been talking about how our congregation is–in some ways–a congregation of misfits…people who don’t fit into a traditional congregation but who have found a home at Open Arms (the name of our congregation).

As I’ve been reading through it, a meditation I read yesterday really struck me. The author began with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Not what you usually think of!

Much of the time in my church experience, the emphasis is on the “mountaintop experiences”…those wonderful times when you feel so close to God that you want to stay there. For many in my faith tradition, those experiences occur at summer family camps–and we often look longingly back at them, wondering what happened to throw us back into the valley!

But the valley has its own value. Sometimes we’re unable to see it, precisely because God is working in our lives when we’re in the valley. I had my own experience with that when I felt like I was wandering in a deep, dark canyon for a couple of years.

I think David must have had his own wanderings in the valley as well, wondering what on earth had happened. Yet out of those valley experiences came psalms that are statements of hope and confidence…

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!…I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;…with the Lord there is steadfast love. (Psalm 130)

I will life up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121)

The valleys are where we receive the training–the discipline, as hard as it is–to make the ascent to the high places. They’re the places where we see the “great things” that call us to be more than we are.

So let’s look up…and dream. Dream of what can be…and then accept the training and discipline in the valleys so that we have the strength to climb the mountains…with God’s help.

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