We often pursue the mountaintop experiences, yet life’s gracious road takes us through both the mountains and the valleys. The valley is a place of mercy.
My family and I recently moved to the mountains for my husband’s new job. We have a beautiful house just outside town, with stunning views. I am in absolute awe of the peace and tranquility our little mountain retreat provides. Sunrises and sunsets light up the sky in spectacular colors. And oh the stars, I’ve never seen so many! Our mountain haven is truly a gift from God.
Yet, living in the mountains at the top of a ridge has also given me perspective. Because, while the mountaintop is uniquely beautiful, there are challenges with mountaintop living, too.
As I am writing, I hear the wind howling against my windows outside. I have never in my life heard wind as strong as the wind we have heard in our short three months of living in the mountains. (And I grow up in Texas tornado country).
The wind is so strong and powerful! Sometimes our house almost shakes in the hands of this mighty rush. It is a violent force that carries a sort of reverence in its wake. This wind does not make me afraid, but I certainly sit up and take notice.
The mountaintop is more exposed to, not only the wind but all the elements of the weather. Oftentimes, there will be rain, ice, or snow at the top of the mountain. Whereas in the valley, the weather is more gentle. The air can be cold and harsh at the top of the mountain, and the fog sometimes gets so thick, you cannot see a car length ahead.
Mercies of the Valley
We naturally pursue the mountaintop experiences, yet life’s gracious road takes us through both the mountains and the valleys. The valley is a place of mercy.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4, ESV
Our back porch looks over a small valley, and sometimes I love to just sit and stare at our little valley. I’ve noticed a few things about the valley that I didn’t realize before.
First of all, as the sun gets higher in the sky, light pours into the valley! Sometimes, it is overcast at the top of the ridge, while the valley is full of light. Rarely, is our little valley dark and sunless.
We tend to think that the valley is a dark, depressing place. David refers to the valley as a “shadow of death” in Psalm 23. Although, in the words of D.L. Moody, “If there is a shadow, there must be light there.”
David also says that he is not afraid, because he knows, God, our Holy Shepherd, is right there with him. We are never ever alone in the valley.
The valley is safe.
The valley is warm.
In the valley, we are never alone.
The Grace of Mountains and Valleys
As hikers, when we crest the mountain peak and look out over the valleys below; we breathe a sigh of contentment. “Ah, the hike was hard, but the view is worth it,” one of us will usually say. The view on the mountaintop is beautiful, but the atmosphere is docile, quiet, solemn and lonely.
The view may never get old, but eventually, there always comes the time to turn around and begin the descent. The mountaintop is wonderful, and the valley is merciful.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 125:2, ESV
On the mountaintop, we see the beauty of the Lord, in the valley, we learn to hold His hand. We need both. Do not fear where He may lead you, every place is for knowing Him.