I now believe that what happened to me, in some measure, occurred because I accepted her words and allowed them to control my life. I had no desire for revenge, but I had made the offense my own. It almost destroyed me. I am aware that other issues contributed to this time in the valley, but this, I believe, was the most significant and damaging. The tragedy: I could not explain it to my pastor, and none of the leadership in the church had any prophetic insight with which to enlighten me. Their counsel did not address the real issue, through no fault of theirs. It was me and God. Most of the time, though I knew through the Word that it was not true, I felt I was alone. Feelings took precedence over faith.
As I have already stated, the Lord does not expect us to be devoid of feelings. That would be counterproductive. He created our emotions and expects us to experience them. Jesus felt sorrow and anger. He wept. He loved. He showed compassion. But God intended that our emotions be controlled by His Spirit. We must not give in to them. They must not become the determining factor for our actions. In other words, act rather than react. Uncontrolled emotion leads to reaction without reason. We need to learn to move according to the Word of God. He uses the valley to teach us obedience to Him.
Jesus came that we might have abundant life. This world is full of people whose spirits are dead but not yet buried. There is still hope to reach them if we possess divine life, a life filled with the Holy Spirit. Once we have emerged from the valley and again see life from the perspective of the mountaintop, we should be ready to minister to these lost souls. If we have been teachable through the valley and live in a spirit of humility, the Lord will enable us to minister for His glory. Other valleys will surely come, other desert places, other wildernesses. The extent of our ministry is determined by how much of our lives we are willing to yield to the Lord and how much divine instruction we are ready to receive from Him. Let the valleys of your life be the places of fertile growth they are meant to be.
Another frustration occurred during this time. Helpful people attempted to share the Word of God with me, reminding me of His promises. I knew these scriptures. They always began with “I will”. I did not want a promise for the future. I wanted something for the ‘now’. There were also times that Mary told me, “Just keep praising the Lord”. This I was making my best attempt to do without any outward effect. My response? “That’s what I’m doing, but it’s not helping.” Mary’s comeback? “Don’t be so negative.” I felt like ice water had been thrown in my face. I had enough negative feelings to deal with, without having this arrow shot at me to pierce me further. Please understand that this was how I felt, not necessarily what constituted truth.
When I attended a church service where the people felt the presence of the Lord, I felt nothing. I left in frustration and discouragement. “Why?” I wondered. “What’s wrong with me?” Unfortunately, when I received no reply from the Lord, I became even more frustrated.
During this time, I worked in the art department of a local business. Responsible for the process camera work, I spent a lot of time alone in the darkroom. I had read the book Practising the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I wanted the kind of assurance he developed in his relationship with the Lord. In the darkroom I would start to speak words of praise to God. Not an instant success, I can assure you. My mind would wander back again and again to my problems. I would have to force my thoughts back onto the Lord. Forming positive thought patterns when so much of the negative bombarded my mind kept me in a steady struggle. I did not always win the battle.
I have often remarked about people who cannot remain quiet for longer than a couple of minutes. They walk down the street and through the stores talking on their cell phones. Car radios play at full volume. At home, the radio, TV or CD players fill their ears with continuous sound. (I am in no way criticizing these technologies. They have their place in life. Nor am I criticizing the people. It just seems to be the way of the world.) I sometimes imagine they cannot stand their own thoughts, so have to have noise to block them out. Often during my struggle I felt the same way, only I did not turn to noise to prevent my thoughts. I went to sleep. If I slept, I did not have to think. An unhealthy solution, no doubt, but this solution I often chose repeatedly through a long period of time. This was unproductive, probably counterproductive. Actually no solution at all. I always had to wake up again. My thoughts waited to pounce on me once again, like a cat on a moving target. Only I was probably more stationary than moving.
Strangely, I never stopped going to church. I attended every Bible study, Sunday service (morning and evening), prayer meeting, even prayer meetings held outside my own church. Many people would just back off and stay home with the excuse that they received no benefit from being there. I persevered. I can only say that God’s hold on me was so strong that I never contemplated quitting even though I often felt wretched being there. It certainly had nothing to do with any virtue in myself that I kept going. Obviously a good seed of faith had been planted—much stronger than I was aware of. Jesus had saved me, filled me in the past, and could fill me once again. As the old adage says, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” There must have been some vestige of hope left in my heart. I just could not see (or feel) it. The Lord was even more determined not to let me go. With Him on my side, no matter how weak I was, no matter how often I ‘blew it’, I really could not fail. It depended on the Lord, not me.
The lessons I learned as I walked the way of the valley have been invaluable to me in the years since my deliverance. I have had many ups and downs. I have failed and faltered. I have fallen. But the Lord has never again allowed me to remain for so long in the valley. I have found my way of escape much more quickly. And now I pray I may in some way help alleviate the troubled times others go through. I trust I have something concrete to offer them—and you. With the help of the Spirit of the Lord, it is my desire to minister His love and life to those in need. If my valley experience can help even one soul to find peace and a deeper relationship with Jesus, it will not have been in vain.
Thank you so much for taking time to visit my blog and read my posts. I really appreciate you taking time from your busy life to do this. I would love for you to leave a comment in the box below before you leave. Feel free to browse around the site as well. If you are not already following me, please take a moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of new posts.
If you are interested in purchasing Shadows in My Valley, please check out my Author page here.
Have a wonderful day. God bless you.