06 Aug Mountain Tops & Low Valleys: I WILL DECLARE OF YOUR GOODNESS
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
– – Isaiah 43:19-21 NIV – –
As we drove through the lowest elevation in America, my anxiety rose to meet the temperature as it hit 118 degrees fahrenheit and the next mountain loomed in front of us. One of my thoughts, as my heart clenched in desperation, “Please, don’t make us have to climb another mountain. I don’t know if we can handle it.” The other thought, “Death Valley is appropriately named.”
Just recently my husband, Gregory, and I were able to take a sixteen-day road trip. We set our feet and wheels in sixteen states, and even now I still miss being on the road. He with his cameras and gear, always ready to take a picture and film a vista. Myself with my eyes searching, my heart yearning, and my soul needing rest. Neither of us was disappointed by what we found and experienced.
I was blessed to share one of those road trip experiences during our Summer Women’s Bible Study. A mountain top perspective of God’s goodness. We were climbing and sweating our way up in elevation; Gregory with the burden of his gear, and I with the burden of rest.
Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Very early on during the climb, I realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy of a hike as I first thought, and I found myself praising God when the path would flatten out before the next steep incline.
Praise Jesus! I made it!
As we neared what I hoped was halfway, I started praising God in the middle of the hard work. I used it as a way to hype myself up, to endure in the midst, like the little train that could.
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God can not do!
A messenger from God and fellow path taker was filled with grace on their way back down the mountain and let us know, “You are almost there.” It was then that I was praising God before I even started the next steep climb.
You’ve done it before and you’ll do it again, faithful Father. I’ll go where you lead me.
When I got to the top of that mountain, I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by our God. I sat by the lake for hours in the aftermath of the climb and I cried, laughed, sighed and rested. None of those reactions were from the hardship I just hiked through, but because God is worth it. We all have mountains in our lives that we are meant to climb with steep switchback trails that are tests and trials. No matter if it is at the end, in the midst, at the beginning, or all the time, we should be praising God. God’s goodness is meeting us there on our paths up the mountain and through the wilderness.
During that amazing experience, I knew God was declaring His promises over me more and more as we climbed up. With a smile on my face and a spring to my weary feet, we walked back down to the valley floor. I didn’t realize that a different kind of valley was coming up in about a week. It wasn’t going to be lush, green, and dense, but instead the valley was scorched, brown, and scarce. One where I questioned my decision-making skills, my emotional state of being, and my van’s ability to endure through extreme conditions.
Death Valley, Mojave Desert, California.
I should have realized the weight and importance of a place named Death. As we dropped down into the first valley, I didn’t know that we would have to climb back up to 3,300 feet ABOVE sea level just to drop back down into the next valley at 280 feet BELOW sea level. Mostly, I should have remembered that rest is not a place but a Person. Deep in the valley of death, as the sun was setting, I let anxiousness and fear reign. Overwhelmed by uncertainty, I was just trying to get out, as the miles and miles of desert unfolded before us.
Each new climb didn’t fill me with life and encouragement. All I felt was death and debilitating fear. The brilliant sunset didn’t spark the joy it usually brings, instead I let the darkness creep into my thoughts. Every mile, I felt worse. Every new sight to see, I dreaded. I just wanted to see the end. Arriving at our hotel that evening, sleep didn’t come easily and it wasn’t until a new morning dawned that I could feel free from what happened in Death Valley.
When we returned home, I was able to look back and realize that God’s goodness did not abandon me in that valley. I was reminded that even in that desert there was an oasis. A river of life that people gathered around. There was only one difference of significance between my experiences. It wasn’t the difference in the landscape. It was the difference in my own heart. I didn’t praise God. I didn’t look for God. I didn’t even remember the mountain top.
Where are you? Are you in the dry desert, thirsty and feeling the weight of a burden? Is darkness overwhelming your thoughts? You’re not alone. Even in anxiousness, in the dry scorched land, and in rising temperatures, God’s goodness is meeting you. He is leading you to the streams of life, and shining a light into the darkness.
Are you climbing a mountain? Perhaps you’re on another steep incline in the lush forest, persevering and pressing forward? Are you in need of fresh insight or renewal? You’re not alone. God’s goodness is in each step, in your progress and in your rest. He is cheering you on and reminding you that He is faithfully with you every step of the way.
Wherever you are, wherever God’s goodness is meeting you. Let’s declare it together! Let’s be willing to let our voices and hearts proclaim and sing:
My God, on the mountain tops and in the low valleys, you are worth it. Your goodness surrounds me. Your presence is with me. My God, my goodness.