Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mountains and Valleys

Many years ago, in the land of Israel, there were two battles that God used to speak greatly to me right here in 2014.  It’s just another example of how powerful and living the Word of God is, and how God uses his timeless word to speak to us where we are today.  This story involves the wicked King Ahab and the wicked Arameans and the weak Israelites……except that the Israelites had God on their side, which is all they or any of us need.

The Arameans decided to come up against Israel.  They had a great multitude, especially compared to Israel’s small numbers.  However, God isn’t worried about numbers, and so with His strength and wisdom He enabled Israel to attack the Arameans and win the battle. 

The Arameans didn’t take this defeat sitting down.  Soon they decided, through the counsel of their king’s advisers, to attack Israel.   The first battle was in the hill country, but the Arameans decided that the second battle would be in the valley.  They reasoned that the gods of Israel were the gods of the mountains but not gods of the valleys, so they decided to give themselves the strategic advantage of fighting in the valley for this second go around. 

God had other plans, as we well know.  The Arameans obviously didn’t know that there is one God, and that He is God of both mountains and valleys.  In I Kings 20:28 we find God speaking through His servant as He said, “Because the Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys’, therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Sure enough, God once again gave Israel a sound victory over the Arameans….valley or not.  It totally didn’t matter whether the battle was in the mountains or in the valleys, because God is God of both.  It doesn’t matter what we or others think about God.  He IS the God of the mountains and He IS the god of the valleys.  Period. 

This is an old analogy but well worth repeating.  I have mountains in my life and I have valleys.  I have the good times and I have the bad times.  We all do.  It’s easy to see God on those mountain experiences when things are going well, and to talk of all His blessings.  We see our prayers answered the way we want them answered, and so we praise God for “answering our prayers.”  We feel like God is near and evident because……well, because we feel Him.  We see all the good things and we feel Him near, and we’re just so high up on that mountain.

But what about the valley?  We will end up there, you know.  Things in life do have a way of changing, for some more than others.  The valley is a harder place to see God and to feel His presence.  Prayers aren’t always answered in the way that we want…….in the way that we pray.  Healing may not come.  Ongoing heartache may not go away.  Doors may not open.  Relationships may not be restored. 

Sometimes the valley is one quick battle and we’re done.  We can be back up on that mountain in no time.  But often we find that our valley experience is prolonged and painful, so hard to understand and so hard to maintain.  What we need to remember…….what I need to remember……is the lesson that God taught to the Arameans so long ago. 

God IS God, no matter where we find ourselves.  He knows the battle plan and the best location for that plan to take place in our lives.  Through the good and the bad, God’s desire is for us and for all around us to see………through our battle………that He is the Lord. 

Now it’s easy for me, as I sit in my comfortable chair at my special quiet time desk with my pretty candle flickering, to have all these thoughts about mountains and valleys.  It’s quite another matter to live this out when I get up from that desk, leave my comfy chair, and blow out the candle.  Life hits me square in the face many times, and I find myself with thoughts and worries and frustrations that are not honoring to God at all.  I’m thankful that God understands my weaknesses, but I’m even more thankful that He tells me over and over that He IS God.  He wants me to know by experience, both on the mountain and in the valley, that He is fighting for me.

It’s not the length or the location of the battle, but it’s the strength of my God that I need to remember.  And His presence, in both the mountains and the valleys of my life. 

“I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”















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