Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: Valleys of My Life
By Pamela Rosario
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We have all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I would like to state it a bit differently. Let’s say, “You don’t know where you have been, until you leave.” A native of Florida, I remember the first time I saw the Grand Canyon. Explosions of color burst from the face of the cliffs as I peered across the chasm toward the far side of the canyon.Wow. Florida sure didn’t look like this.
The same feelings overwhelmed me the first time I climbed out of the valley and onto the mountaintop. Astonishment and gratitude flooded my soul. Why hadn’t I made the trip sooner? The journey was difficult, but the benefits would be eternal.
Each valley was unique and held challenges all its own. First, the valley of childhood taught me to follow rules. The mountaintop was beautiful, but remote. I came to believe it was reserved for those more worthy than me. Snowcaps and crisp clean air were set aside as rewards for a select few who claimed no sins and no secrets to hide. If I did what I was told, maybe one day I would be good enough to visit those lofty heights.
Years passed and I moved to the valley of adolescence. The youngest of five children, I was a keen observer of my older siblings. Quickly, I resolved not to repeat the mistakes I had seen. I maintained good grades, desperate for approval. Church was another chore I performed on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Through the turmoil of that time, I gave up even trying for the mountaintop.
Life changes came about as I entered the valley of deception and rebellion. Pregnant and unmarried, I cried to the God I had heard of during my younger years. Although we would sing that God is love, I failed to feel it. I imagined Him on the mountaintop shaking His head at the mess I had made. Even after He resolved my problem, I couldn’t fathom He had done it out of love.
Two children and one divorce later, I spied a peak that lit a spark of hope in my soul. Could it be? I daydreamed about majestic vistas that took my breath away. But, the guilt, shame, and inadequacy of my past weighed heavy on my shoulders, bent my neck, and caused me to focus yet again on the muck and the mire of the spiritual valley I had created for myself. Hope was extinguished and gave way to despair.
One day, however, things took a drastic change. Perpetual darkness covered me now. I cried out in desperation, “I am not worthy of Your attention. My God, my heart is broken inside me. Please forgive me. Hear my plea. Save my life. I need you so.” I knew I had used the actions of others to justify my own. All the lies, the adultery, and the pride I accepted. Crushed from the weight of it all, I crawled to the throne of Grace.
In the twinkling of an eye, He picked me up. He set me on a path and I began to climb. “Seek me with your whole heart,” He said (Psalms 119:2). The start of my assent was hard. I would scramble up a few feet only to have guilt wrap its icy fingers around my ankle and yank me down. I turned and rebuked the enemy. “In the name of Jesus, let me go!” I crawled and clamored. I clawed until my palms were bloody and my knees were raw. Other times, all I could do was cling to my perch and cry. But, hope spurred me on. The beginnings of faith stirred in my heart. Words of Scripture spoke to my mind. Strength tumbled down the mountain and filled my limbs with renewed vigor.
I believed “hope against hope” (Romans 4:18) God wanted me. He loved me, in spite of all I had done. No one on earth ever cared for me like Him. I would reach the summit. I didn’t care how painful or humiliating. Nothing could stop me as long as I kept my eyes on Him.
After many nights spent climbing upward, I reached the top. The weight from my past was gone “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalms 103:12) I twirled and danced. I sang to the Ancient of Days who brought me through the valleys that led me back to Him.
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