I bet you are thinking that I will soon run out of metaphors that describe bad times in our lives. Not yet!
A valley is different than the others though, because we often picture it between mountains. So a valley can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.
A valley is a good thing when your mountains represent really hard climbs and difficult situations — they are a break between trials. But when mountains represent mountain top experiences, then valleys aren’t so great.
When I was a teenager, I loved youth camp. It was my favorite week of the year and I am still in touch with many of the people who went to camp with me 40 years ago. Yikes. Typing that made me cringe. But I digress…
Our youth camp was nestled deep in the mountains of Colorado, so we had literal mountain top experiences. I remember coming home just knowing that I would be able to sustain the spiritual power and presence of God like I did at camp. This year, I would tell myself, I would be that person that I knew I could be long after I got home. And then I would walk into my house and was greeted in a not-so-pleasant way by my younger brother and it all fell apart immediately :-)
You know what I’m talking about though, right? Does does some amazing thing and we are flying high, convinced that it is going to last and suddenly it is over. The feelings go away. The key is to remember that when the feelings fade, God is still there. That part doesn’t change.
One of the most significant examples of this is the story of Jesus and Peter, James and John when they went up to a mountain and saw Jesus transfigured in Matthew 17. Immediately impetuous Peter says — Hey, this place is great. Let’s put up some tents and just stay right here. But Jesus knew that life is not a series of those emotional highs and they leave the mountain.
In Scripture the very next passage is about a demon possessed boy. Now I’m not comparing my youngest brother to someone demon possessed (thought I’m sure I thought that as a teenager) but you get the picture. Sometimes emotionally charged spiritual experience come back to back with darkness and we have to figure out a way to make it through those days.
If you are on a mountain top, enjoy it! Rejoice in those great times …. but realize that there will more than likely be a valley to follow. And if you are in a valley, realize that there will be another mountain top soon enough — it’s just the rhythm of life.
This song got me through the valleys of my youth. Anybody else listen to this about a zillion times a few decades ago?
Or if you’d like a more modern version of the same concept.