There are times in our lives when things become crystal clear. We are able to recall events from years gone by, understand how they have brought us to where we are right now, and peer into the distance like an archer down the shaft of his arrow to a target a long way off. We stand and say, “I get it now…I understand” and then sit back down and bask in the wonder of connected events. This is the view from the mountain top. As the first light of a new morning lifts the fog from the hills we begin to see the panoramic expanse that has been our life and we are humbled, grateful, and hopeful. We want to stay where we can see the bigger picture and understand the beginning from the end, but there is a part of us that knows the bitter truth we must entertain…we cannot live on the mountain – we must return to the valleys.
When you boil it all down, the mountain top only serves to show us how to get to the next peak – the next point from which to get an even further glimpse. It reveals the distance and the darkness of the valley between. We can see which ridges and ravines to skirt, the walls and barriers we’ll need to go around, and the rivers we’ll need to bridge. This is where we must go and this is where most of our time is spent – here, in this life, we are valley dwellers.
We live our lives in the daily ups and downs of humanity and its man-made environments. We strive through emotions and tragedies and struggles and fears as we try to hold to our path. If we were wise we would have drawn a map while on the mountain and kept it safe in our hearts so we would not stray when events buffet our determination. If we are wise we will join hands with others along the way so we could all weather the inevitable storms. If we are wise we will guard our hearts and minds from the temptations in the valleys that would draw us away. But we are not as wise as we’d like to believe, and in the words of Rich Mullins, “we are not as strong as we think we are“. We were given a map, but it is rarely opened. We build barricades and walls without windows to keep others from seeing our struggles. We allow our eyes and ears draw us off the road that would lead us through and out of the valley. We are frail and fallen and frightened souls stuck in the mire of circumstance and folly.
But we are not forgotten…and we have not been left alone.
His eye is always on us. He knows exactly where we are and how far we’ve strayed and most importantly, he knows the way out. He knows who to bring alongside us and who to lead us away from. He knows which walls to bring down, which doors to open and what bridges to build. He drew the map we were given on the mountain top…and it hasn’t changed. He is the author and finisher of our faith – what he revealed on the mountain he will complete through the valley. He knows the only place to learn these truths is in the valley where experience becomes the teacher and theory is tested. Faith is formed on the valley floor.
These are lessons we must learn to live a life of faith because every valley wall is a mountain side and every mountain side tumbles into a valley. The higher the mountain, the deeper and wider the valley.