Living in a valley has given me a clearer understanding of the significance of ‘valley’ experiences that we experience as followers of the Master.
Our valley can appear dangerously isolated and difficult to survive in at some points. If we need to get to other places in Italy it can be a tortuous journey. When we want to return home to Scotland we have wonderfully economic and relatively frequent service from Milan which takes just over 2hours or so. Wonderful!! It certainly is. However to get from the valley to Milan airport takes 2 and a half hours at best and by public transport can take up to 4hours. So it takes longer (& often costs more!!) to journey from here to Milan than to fly to Edinburgh!!
I often experience my own spiritual valleys as feeling dangerous and isolated. It is true that often we are in valleys of despair where we feel isolated & in danger. The truth of course is that in fact we are in the care of a pastor who cares for us and in fact is looking for us. When I wander off into places that are dangerous He is looking for me. Often I feel alone and tired of the long journey to get out of the valley. However the on the journey I am learning the contours of the valley and how to walk in safety. I realise that often the Master has been walking with me and I did not recognise Him there.
Another aspect of the valley life is that I am known by most who live here. Sometimes I miss the anonymity of city life. There is virtually nowhere I can go in this valley where I am not likely to meet somebody, at least 1 person, who knows me.
My experience of walking in the spiritual valleys of my life has been that He puts His people in front of me. I cannot go very far before I meet somebody who brings me back to the right path. Sometimes they don’t even know it but perhaps they ask questions which make me remember where I should be walking. It helps me find my way back.
Behind all these valley experiences the Master is teaching me more about Him and giving me a clearer understanding of His care for me.
I have been followed for most of my adult life at some point or other with the words of the 23rd Psalm – it was a favourite song of my family of non-believers for some strange reason – and as I walk through the valley I am constantly understanding the reality of the Lord who is my Shepherd.
‘God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. 2 You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 3 True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. 4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure 5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. 6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.’