Out of a Valley

Happy Thursday!

This week is very different, as my friend and fellow soldier for Christ, Sarah Killam, is sharing her heart on an honest subject.  She is passionate about sharing the truth of God’s Word with everyone around her, I can attest.  (Be sure to follow her on Twitter for awesome tidbits of wisdom, and keep up with her blog.)  Grab your morning cup of Joe and get ready to be inspired!

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!  I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:1-5

One of the things I love about David’s psalms is how often, while being in the middle of the scariest or most discouraging circumstances, he utters statements like this.  In this case, David, in a moment of foolish desperation, had gone to his enemies, the Philistines, for help, and had been forced to pretend to be crazy in front of the Philistine king in order to save his own life.  It was a low point for him, to say the least.  And when we read about his life, we see that it won’t be the last.

A year ago, after a very difficult year, I felt that I was at last at one of the high points of my life.  After lots of hard work, I was graduating from college with a double major, and on top of that, I got to be one of the speakers at my commencement.  Preaching is my favorite thing to do, so needless to say, I was thrilled to have the chance to do what I love and proclaim Jesus on such a momentous day.  I was also going through the final stages of approval to become a missionary associate, so on that day, I felt as if the world was beautiful and unlimited possibilites were at my fingertips.

As so often happens, though, life quickly took over and discouragement set in within a fairly short amount of time.  I moved home, and it took me three months just to get hired at a restaurant.  With no car, no money, and my closest friends far away, I felt stranded and alone.  I was still full of excitement about hearing from God and being approved to go as a missionary to Greece, but I quickly realized that support raising was going to be even harder than I had anticipated.  Frustration with the environment turned into apathy and weariness.  I felt myself growing distant from the God whose work I was trying to be about.  Months passed by in which I seemed to be stuck in this rhythm.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have those feelings at times.

It’s funny how we sometimes have to re-learn the same thing over and over.  After other circumstances in my life, I thought my hope was completely in Jesus, and I knew in my head and preached that He was enough.  And He is.  But what I’m learning is that it’s not enough to just have the knowledge that God is good and that He is sufficient.  Every day, like David, I have to choose to focus my attention on Jesus.  I have to choose to worship Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, withholding nothing from Him.  I can’t just float along, expecting God to work everything out around me while I make no effort to change my attitude.  Even at my most discouraging, low moments, I must choose to bless Him, to look to Him.  When I do, He promises that He will come near.  He promises that although our afflictions are many, He will deliver us out of them all.  He promises that we will never be ashamed when we look to Him.

I know you may have fears, hurts, hopes, disappointments, and struggles.  I have them too.  I’m still coming out of a valley.

Let’s pursue Christ.

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