I spent a few years in the Boys Scouts when I was a kid. It started as a way to hang out with friends and that part was wonderful. I learned so much in those days and enjoyed a part of life I didn’t know existed. But then my family moved away and I had to start all over again. When we arrived in Las Vegas, I wanted anything that might have been normal to me and so very quickly after arriving there, my parents helped me get connected to a local Scout Troop. What I quickly learned was that the luster was lost in the move. It wasn’t the same without the close friends I had to leave behind.
While my time there was brief, one particular memory was a trip we took to Death Valley, CA for a backpacking trip. The troop I had joined was an aggressive backpacking troop and we did a lot of cool hiking trips.
Death Valley is everything you might imagine it would be. Death in a valley. There was nothing there. Just brown, sandy terrain all around, a few Joshua Trees here and there, and cactus. We went in the winter because that’s the only time it tolerable to go to such a harsh environment and even in the winter, the temperature rose daily to well over 90. I can’t imagine being there in the height of summer and enduring temps over 120. It’s almost unsurvivable!
I love that I can tell people I’ve been to Death Valley, but I love even more than I’m not there anymore. It was a place to visit and leave.
In Psalm 23, David launches into one of the most famous passages of Scripture with his comments about the Lord and his incredible favor. From The Passion Translation, he starts like this,
23:1, The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
2 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
3 That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
4 Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
There are a lot of valley’s we walk through over the course of our lives. I love the mountain tops, they are amazing and can easily be remembered and memorialized.
Not only have I gone through Death Valley, but I’ve also spent a few days trekking into the deep mountains of central Colorado. Twice we summited different mountains at 14K feet, Longs Peak, just to the North of famous Pikes Peak, and Half Peak. There is nothing like being atop of the world for those moments and literally seeing hundreds of miles in every direction.
But just as stupendous as those mountain tops are, are the profound nature of the valleys beneath them. Those valley’s can be devastating to go through, the ones between mountains and the ones in life as well.
I love the wording that David uses here in V4- Even though I walk through valley of deepest darkness…
The point is to keep walking. God is not calling us to set up camp in deepest darkest point of our lives. He is LEADING us through something that is deeper and darker than we are demonstrating to us that he will continue with us through those very tough seasons of our lives.
I’ve learned to love these Death Valley’s just as much as I love the mountain tops. It’s only through the valley’s that you begin to see the generous and mighty hand of the Lord fighting on your behalf when you just can’t any longer. He is so incredibly generous that way.
What are some of your valley’s and what did you through by going through them?
And just if your curious, here is the rest of Psalm 23
5 You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[h
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6 So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!