The Valley of Vision
By Lori D'Augostine
-- Do you feel stuck in a valley of despair right now? How long has it been since you've experienced the exhilaration of standing on top of a high mountain, where you can soar above the clouds and preview your world from above?
The view of the world is breathtaking when you're on top, but what about from below? If this is you, saddened and stuck in your circumstances, it sounds like you need some vision.
Let me begin by encouraging you that you don't have to wait until you reach that mountaintop to begin experiencing joy again. You can receive hope from the Lord directly from that valley He has you in.
In Mark 9, we see Jesus leading a select group of disciples to the top of a "very high mountain." I don't know what the trek might have been like on the way up, but one thing is mentioned. Peter, James, and John were completely dazzled by the Lord's transfiguration. In an instant, Jesus turned from man to a glorified figure with sparkling, white clothes.
Personally, I think I would have passed out, especially to see Moses and Elijah suddenly appear as from thin air. The disciples didn't exactly respond that way. They were like giddy, little boys, 'Show us more Jesus.' They wanted more spectacle.
"Peter exclaimed, 'Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' " (Mark 9:5, NIV)
Although it was a common Jewish practice to commemorate times the Lord has appeared to His people in the past, Jesus instructed the men to tell no one of this event. He simply led them back down the mountain. Their mountain-top experience didn't last very long. Perhaps you can't even remember the last time Jesus appeared to you.
Do you ever wonder why Jesus took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley so quickly after this amazing event? Why did He choose the valley as a place to explain the true meaning of the vision?
Jesus often guides us down the lower roads to speak to us. Too many times, we're wrapped up in being on top of the world, where everyone knows us and glories in our high positions. But, who are we when all of the accolades are gone? Where is our faith when everything is stripped away, and we feel overwhelmed and downtrodden?
Jesus warned His disciples against taking pride in high positions. In Luke 22, the disciples argued about who would be the greatest among them. Peter thought that it was he who would sit next to the throne of God. Yet Jesus knew otherwise when he rebuked Peter, the man Jesus knew would soon deny Him three times.
Jesus' message to the disciples and to us is very simple:
"Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?" (Luke 22:26-27, NLT)
If you want to draw nearer to the throne and very presence of God or the high places, you must experience the lowly things first. You must take the road less traveled, the path of true Christ-like humility. Are you willing to take this journey?
There is a well-known Puritan prayer that has encouraged me many a time during my own arduous journey of humility. Fittingly, it is titled the Valley of Vision. I encourage you, wherever you are to watch this YouTube video presentation of this prayer.
Here are the words:
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.
If you find yourself in the valley, take heart. There is a vision for you to behold and imitate right were you are. If you feel like you are in an endless, uphill battle and can't do anything right to get to the top of the mountain. Stop climbing. Breathe, and take in the fresh air from below. He has so much for you from below.
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