Life can be stopped in its tracks by bad news. While the Psalmist says, “They won’t be frightened at bad news. Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord” [112:7], the reality is that a middle of the night phone call, a doctor’s report, or even an email, can rock your world. Imagine, then, the impact of news that means you will have to face something for a second time. What do you do when the journey ahead means a second time in the valley?
An experience with my youngest daughter offered me some guidance. When she was little, she would whimper in her car seat each time we descended a steep hill. This symptom was exacerbated when a move to a new part of town required a daily drive into a deep ravine called Wintergreen Gorge. Going through the valley became a very unpleasant, but necessary path for us to take in order to get home.
On one particular trip, I felt led to stop at the bottom of the gorge. We got out and began to walk, discovering a beautiful trail lined with trees, flowers, and rocks. As we explored, we held hands, we talked, we laughed, we walked, we ran, and at times, we stood in silence listening to the birds. It was precious time together – father and child.
The next day when we began our descent into Wintergreen Gorge, my daughter’s whimper alerted me that anxiety was seeping back into her mind. “Sweetheart,” I asked, in a gentle a voice, “Do you remember the last time we were here? Remember walking on the trail together?” She was silent as she fought to discipline her thoughts enough to remember. I calmly continued, “Do you remember the beautiful flowers and that large tree that was lying across the trail? Do you remember daddy picking you up and putting you on top of it?” She wavered between tears and a nervous smile.
As she recalled walking with her father through the valley, her smile slowly broadened. Then, like a dam burst, a deluge of memories flooded her heart and mind. Beaming, she turned the conversation around, barraging me with questions to confirm that I was the one who remembered! With animated voice she continued, “…and dad, do you remember the creek? And that big hill we climbed up then ran all the way down? Do you remember that stick that looked like a giraffe?”
I was amazed as we drove through the valley. This place that had once triggered fear and dread now evoked joy as she chose to recall the intimacy of relationship experienced with her father the first time she had walked through it.
Are you facing a second time in the valley? Be encouraged. While your journey through the valley may not have been a joyful place of wonder, I do know that your Heavenly Father walked with you each step of the way. It was a place of discovery as you learned how to trust all over again.
As you journey a second time in the valley, I pray that any anxiety and apprehension would be replaced with remembrances of His loving embrace, holding you up, and carrying you over what seemed insurmountable the last time. I pray that you would experience His embrace afresh again this time: that fear would be displaced with the reality of how high, how wide, how deep, how long, how sweet and how strong your heavenly Father’s love is for you. I echo the declaration of the Psalmist, “Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for you are at my side” [Psalm 23:4 NJB]. Be encouraged, you will come up out of the valley on the other side, in awe of how God carried you through then and now.