The view from the mountaintop was breathtaking. I tried to soak in as much as possible, my eyes darting here and there, trying to burn into my mind each and every beautiful view and the shape of each new friend’s smile.
If my ears could twitch they would have, trying to catch every sound, every piece of wisdom and encouragement offered.
The taste of fresh mountain strawberries lingered in my mouth as I wondered where others kept finding the delicious looking blueberries. Alas, some mysteries are never meant to be solved.
My steps felt secure, firm upon the top of the mountain. There was a twinge of fear in my gut, but it was a fear mixed with hand trembling excitement and pure bliss.
The view from the top is rewarding. I worked hard to get here and I wasn’t disappointed.
My mountaintop was the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference – a place rumored to be full of God’s presence, a place where His divine power is always at work.
The rumors were true. I tasted and I saw the goodness of the Lord in this place.
The words of Psalm 23:1-3 (The Message) filled my soul with affirmation and truth. My heart cried out with the Psalmist, “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”
My passion for writing was flamed, new dreams were birthed, and bold prayers were answered. I caught my breath and knew God was sending me in the right direction. Whatever way I looked the view from the top was spectacular.
“Once you leave the mountaintop there’s only way to go, into the valley.” The words spoken by conference director Alton Gansky sank deep into my heart as I fidgeted with the pen in my hand. I knew how true those words were and my heart sunk as I tried to imagine what my valley would look like.
As the conference came to an end I wiped my sweaty palms on my pants and prepared to say goodbye to my new writing family and the dear friends I had made. I flew back to Wisconsin tired, excited, and a bit wary.
It wouldn’t take long for my steps to lead me down the mountain and into the valley. God had given me a miraculous two weeks. My health was good enough to not only climb the figurative mountain at the writer’s conference, but to explore a couple of real mountains and play in the ocean as well.
When I got home I started a new medication that is helping my body get healthier, but the process is torture. Welcome to my valley, affectionately called Productive Misery.
When your body is in the fight of its life, it needs time to rest; so I sleep and I rest and I sleep some more. I dream of writing and fresh ideas flow through my mind. I wake up and take notes on my phone only to fall asleep as soon as they’re sent to my inbox.
When your body is fighting something that can kill it, you can’t help but feel like death warmed over. Miserably, I knew I was deep into my valley.
Psalm 23:4 encourages, “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.”
Friends, I don’t have to fear the valley and neither do you. We’re not alone there. God walks right alongside of us, guiding us and helping us when we stumble.
Erin wasn’t the only one walking alongside me that day. God was there, and He’s walking in your valley too. Call on His name and ask Him to rescue you and help you feel secure. He will be delighted to answer that prayer!
When you’ve made it to the top of the mountain, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. But when you’re in the valley looking up at the mountain you realize how small you are and how big, mighty, and powerful God is.
Don’t try to pass through the valley too quickly. Take time to look around and appreciate what God is doing there. Marvel at His grandeur and lean on Him as you walk the path together.
Wherever you find yourself today, know that God is Lord over all and is working for your good. Praise Him from the mountaintop and praise Him from the valley, for His love is steadfast and endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever. - Psalm 136:26 (ESV)