Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: God's Love in the Valley
By TINA GARTON
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I live near the county of Derbyshire which is renowned for its beautiful ‘dales’ or valleys. I enjoy walking through the dales, enjoying the peace and quiet, the pretty little flowers that seek shelter from the wind and the tiny animals and birds hiding from larger ones that live outside the valley. Shepherds guide expectant ewes down into the dales so they can give birth in the protection of the valley walls.
But the dales have another side. In the winter they are cruelly cold, trapped in snow and ice, harsh and barren. The shepherds now battle into the dales, searching for lost sheep before they freeze to death. Nothing grows there anymore. All the animals have either left or are hibernating, waiting for the sun to shine again.
We all go through valleys in our lives. At the time they seem bleak, inhospitable places, full of pain and hardship. They are the times in our lives that we struggle to survive but is that all they are? I don’t think so. When I look back over all the hard times in my life, the dales I’ve travelled through, I can see glimmers of hope planted like beautiful flowers, clinging to the rock face, sheltered from the wind of distraction that would have blown them away in normal life.
My darkest, rockiest valley was when I was told that my husband David had 6 months to live. He was 34, I was 29, our son Josh was 4. We were both saved and loved Jesus as our Lord. Then we were plummeted into this awful valley. It was cold, cut off from the warmth of God’s love. It was dark, shadows of fear destroyed the light of hope. Jagged rocks tripped us at every turn.
I wondered how God could love us and let this happen. Without the certainty of God’s love to sustain me I was so lonely. David was on lots of morphine and slept most of the time. I stopped going to church after a lady asked if I had worked out what I had done that so offended God that He was taking David from me!
I had no hope left. I was going to be a widow before I was 30. What hope of joy could I have? We had only been married for 6 years. Josh was due to start school in 4 months time. Would David be alive to share that milestone with me, let alone any of the ones to follow? I could not see light shining anywhere. I could not get comfort from my bible, I had lost the light of hope to read it with.
Our path through the dale was a rough one, strewn with problems that tripped us up. No sooner had we got our balance back when we fell over another jagged rock. I felt like my feet were torn and bleeding but I still had to put one foot in front of the other. What choice did I have? I had to be strong and cope for David and Josh.
Then the light came back! After 5 months David was offered drastic surgery. It was his only chance. The surgery took place in Hope Hospital! Suddenly we could hope for a future. It was like a sunbeam shining through thick grey clouds. My heart had been frozen and now I could let myself feel again. The surgery showed that although the cancer had grown both inside and outside the bowel, it was encapsulated and had not spread, contrary to the tests! He was going to live! David came home 23rd December 2002.
Looking back on my valley I can see where God planted tiny flowers to give me hope. The friend that called at 11pm to pray with me because she knew I could not sleep, David secretly planting spring bulbs in our lawn so that I would get flowers for our anniversary and be reminded of his love after he had died, meeting an old acquaintance who has since become my best friend, my sister and my mentor, drawing me closer to God.
God’s love never left us. I was unable to see Him because the shadow of fear kept me looking down. I was so busy looking for the next problem waiting to trip us up that I forgot to look up, follow God and trust in His never ending love. I won’t make that mistake again, will you?
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