Hills and Valleys

PicsArt_08-17-11.15.46.jpg

Our lives are filled with a mixture of hills and valleys. Depending on our season we may feel like we spend a little more time on one than another. If I were to take a poll, most of you would probably feel like you spend a little more time in the valleys of life than on the hilltops.

In this verse (Deuteronomy 11:11) Moses is painting the picture of the landscape that Israel is about the enter (and really our lives.) These are things that stand out:

 It’s a lifescape with hills AND valleys

It takes one to appreciate the other. They compliment each other. While on top of the hills of life we’re able to look back to where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. Days might seem brighter longer on the hills because there are fewer things casting shadows on us.  Believe it or not…valley’s can be places of protection. In storms, we are advised to get to the lowest place possible for safety, until the storm passes. It’s when we are at our highest that we are susceptible to the damages of life’s storms. Valleys may actually be temporary shelters, helping us avoid even greater storms. Honestly, it’s the journies from the valley to the hilltop and back to the next valley that builds our endurance and strengthens our legs. Without the changing landscape, or staying in either place too long we can become much weaker.

There’s plenty of rain in the land

Think about this.  When you’re on the hill; the rain that you get is only the rain for the hill. But when you’re in the valley; not only do you get the rain for the valley, but you get the runoff from the hill.  It’s the blessings and memories of the “hilltop moments” that give us extra provision and encouragement for the moments in the valleys. There’s plenty of rain for the land…for your life. You just have to look for it and capture it.

God cares for the land and watches over it through each season

Remembering this is probably the most important thing Isreal needed to do, that we need to do. If we’re not careful we feel accomplished on the hill but abandoned in the valley. Forgetting God in either place brings pride, bitterness, rebellion, disobedience and ultimately destruction. Remembering and trusting Him brings protection, provision, and purpose. Every season and elevation of the land, every season and elevation of your life, He’s watching over it.

 

Are you feeling stuck in the valley?

What “runoff” from the hills can you store up or have you stored up to help you through the valleys?

 

 

Whisper

2018080695153227 (1)

Really wish I had that hair now….man

 

As a kid, I would spend several nights in the summer with my great-grandmother out in the country. Granny lived in a little brick house in Beech Bluff, TN. No cable tv, (definitely no internet…not sure if Al Gore had invented it yet.) She only had rabbit ears and 3 channels. Her phone hung on the wall with a 10 ft spiral cord. No central heat and air. There was a window unit in the living room (and a box in the back bedroom window pulling a draft through the house.) On super hot days, I’d sit in front of the air conditioner letting it blow right in my face. I remember it taking my breath away as I’d try to breathe in the cold air. (Not sure how safe that was.)

 

Every morning she’d fix coffee in a percolator pot, pour a little in her saucer to cool and then back in her cup. We’d eat toast and honey or bacon and eggs. After breakfast, we’d water the plants on her carport with milk jugs. One summer a turtle would visit most mornings and we’d feed it dog food. We’d work in her garden until about lunch and I’d spend the rest of the afternoon, exploring her backyard, catching grasshoppers, and digging for worms. We might walk down the road to the neighbor for a visit; I’d grab a walking stick that doubled as a sword. They had an old droopy-eyed basset hound that I’d sit and play with his ears. Right before we’d go in for the evening I’d catch a few fireflies and we’d call it a day.  At night we’d sleep with the bedroom window up. Her bed was right next to the window and I’d fall asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs. Occasionally I’d wake up to coyotes or a wildcat and she would scratch my back until I fell back asleep.

This was pretty much the routine every time I stayed and it never got old.

But I did.

Eventually, I outgrew my summer stays with Granny and hadn’t thought about them in a while, until recently and found myself reminiscing.

Especially the last few moments at night. Before I went to sleep, she would have me repeat the “Lord I lay me down...” prayer.

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I  pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take. AMEN!”

Looking back it’s a little morbid…”Just in case I die tonight Jesus…take me to heaven!

That’s crazy!!!

It’s what happened next that has stirred me greatly recently.

Granny would whisper.

I couldn’t make out her words and was really too tired to pay attention. Was she talking to herself…no she was still praying. My small mind didn’t know why … because we had just covered all our bases with the three lines we’d we’d just repeated.

I didn’t understand it then…but I do now.

She still had things she needed to happen in her life. Her only daughter was still weathering the outcomes of a marriage that had ended but had managed to go back to school and get a job. A few years later her daughter would be hit by a drunk driver facing a long recovery. She had 5 grandchildren and at the time 2-3 great-grandchildren. Some of them were doing well, and some of them were probably going through things that I had no idea about. Her legacy would span 8 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild before she passed at 93; right before her 2nd great-great grandchild was born.

Granny didn’t pray very loud…she just confidently whispered…trusting God to do with her words what He will.

The memory of those whispers has returned so vividly recently and it was as if I could actually hear the hushed words. It’s messed with me for a few days now.

I know it sounds crazy!

I’m so thankful for this memory!

IMG_20180806_221519467_LL.jpgAs I was experiencing the full weight of this I began to wonder. How much of who I am is a result of those prayers. What have I received and avoided as a because of those prayers. I believe the prayers that were whispered laying beside her as a young boy along with  the ones when she was all alone and I was all grown up, have had a greater impact than I will ever comprehend. I wonder how many of those prayers have been answered? I’m sure there are many more, about me and other family members, that are still in process and will continue to be answered even though she entered eternity 12 years ago.  Hebrews 11:13-15 talks about how this works.

Many of us may have had parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents that have whispered prayers for us over the years. You are and will be impacted by those prayers.

Be encouraged by this!

But what if you didn’t have that?

THEN, you do that for your future generations.

Mark Batterson believes that “our prayers are genesis moments that create a change in our genealogy.”  I’m thankful for my family and my heritage, but I know, that there has been some shifting in my genealogy and I want to perpetuate that in my children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.

Don’t underestimate the power of your whispers.

What matters most is not the volume of your voice, but the volume of your faith.

 

I’d love to hear your story! Feel free to share!