The Shadow Of Death
The Old Testament frequently portrays mans distancing from God, as times spent in the 'Valley'. The Valley's of Scripture are universally presumed to be a dismal place. Isolation, nutritional deprivation, perpetual discomfort. Cold and damp, and undoubtedly, a haven for nocturnal rodents and wild beasts, that cohabit this space. Darkness comes early, and sunrise comes late.
But wait a second.Most Valley's I have ever observed, are laden with bountiful ground moisture, lush vegetation, and endless drinking water. The animals gather here, to replenish their thirst, while they bask in the shade, alongside the cool clear waters. Hunters lay in wait, for the inevitable surge of meat bearing mammals, a dependable source of crucial sustenance. So why are the 'Valleys' synonymous with the trials and tribulations of life? And why are the Mountain tops, akin to the triumphs and successes of life? For every mountain top I've seen is barren, exposed to the elements, lacking in natural sources of water and vegetation. And worse, getting there in itself, can be a physical and mental drain. A daunting and unforgiving task. There's no trick question here, nor are there any elusive answers. It is what it is and what it always will be. But presumption is the bane of intellect, and this concept of Valleys, needs further consideration. Being 'up' personifies being in a good place, while being 'down' suggests being in an unfavourable place. Mountaintops, and valleys. But The Bible's reference to Valleys is not so simplistic. For in Gods Word, feeling good, or feeling bad, is always in direct reference to our Spiritual state. Gods definition of success would never take into account, what one has amassed materially. Gods version of success has everything to do with how well we are fellowshipping with His Son. Success, in Gods eyes, is all about our relationship with Him. If given a mission statement from The Lord Himself, it would quite simply read 'Save Souls'. So here, finally, is my point. The Valley, with its easy access to clear water and cooling shade, is, for most of us, a danger zone. For its in the valley that we are most likely to take our eyes off God, and as a result, distance ourselves from His presence. ' The Valley of the shadow of death ' ( PSM's 23 ) is less the universally accepted place of darkness, than it is the dangerous territory of resource, of distance from Christ. For as humans, the more comfort we experience in this world, be it financial, health, relationship security etc, the more likely we will lose our focus on Him. And inevitably as a result, we find ourselves in a deep Spiritual Valley, where amongst the lushness of water and vegetation, and the coolness of shade; where storms are unlikely to reach us, we lose sight of Him. _____________________________