It was once again time that I take a walk through the valley. I learned a long time ago, that it was just the way of things.
"Its because I love you that you must visit the valley." My Father had told me long ago. "In the valley you pass through the storms that strengthen you. When you emerge, you are stronger, more beauitful than before."
I don't just walk through the valley once, but over and over again. Sometimes the walk is short, other times I loose my way. It is in the valley, that I feel my Father is so far away. He's there. I know He is. He's just quietly waiting and watching for me to find the way.
Yet, there once was a time that I stumbled in the underbrush of the valley. I fell flat on my face, my lip cracked and bleeding. Pain seered through me and tears came to my eyes. I had been walking for so long. It felt like years. My body was tired and worn. My heart was heavy in my chest. I had cried out to my Father, "Please! Rescue me from here! I don't want to walk anymore!" But I was met with deadly silence.
As I began to push myself up from the ground, I noticed someone before me lean down and offer me a hand. I took it and the stranger pulled me to my feet. It took a moment to realize who had come to my aid, for at first, I saw nothing but darkness before me. The putrid smell of death was all around and the wicked gleam of evil sparkled before me.
"I see you lost your way." The Wicked One spoke.
"No." I answered, fear rising inside of me. "I lost my footing."
The man laughed. "Seems like I see you around here quite often. Is this the way He shows you He loves you? Sending you through the fire time and time again?"
He mocked me, I knew. Yet, his words burned my heart. Was my father there?
"He isn't, you know." The Wicked One hissed, knowing what I thought. "Just you and me here...and I have a way out if you follow me."
How long had I been in here? What if, this time, I never found my way out? What if He didn't show me the way? As He had in times past...
The Wicked One waited for no answer. He took my hand, so cold and clammy in my own, and pulled me toward a wide path. "This is the easier way." He told me. "Never again will you have to walk through the valley. Your every dream and desire will be yours. I won't condemn you. I won't judge you. Down this path...you are free."
The words seemed so beautiful to my ears and my mind wanted to follow. Yet, my heart felt the darkness clear down to my soul.
"Wait!" I shouted, digging my heels in the earth. "What will this path cost me?"
The Wicked One glared at me with irritation. "What does His way cost you?"
"Nothing." I said simply. "His way is bought and paid for with Christ's blood."
"You don't really believe that, do you?"
I raised my chin and repeated, "What will your way cost me?"
The Wicked One looked uncertain. Then, he shrugged and stated matter-of-factly, "Does it really matter? You'll have all you want on earth without judgement."
"But after that?" I asked. "What will I have?"
With that question, The Wicked One released my hand as if it had burned him. He scowled and scoffed--screamed with all his might, and turned and ran away. He'd lost...but I was still stuck in the dark valley. Yet, when I turned, a clear, bright path shined before me and peace filled my heart.
"This is the way." I heard my Father speak.
I know a time will come again when I get lost in the valley again, but I hold a promise in my heart...that if I stand in His ways, I will never loose my way.
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