Like many journeys, along the way we often get disruptions – like death, end of a relationship, people moving away, illness – which are almost forced upon us. We don’t choose them, they simply come upon us when we least expect them, and nothing at all can prepare us for them. They are painful, overwhelming, emotional and a real struggle.
Valley experiences. Losing my mother was one of those for me. You may be in your own one right now.
But there are other valleys we walk too. The ones we choose.
Jesus chose a valley when He chose the cross. He didn’t have to do it, it wasn’t forced upon Him, it wasn’t a complete shock – and He could have escaped it.
He chose instead to surrender Himself completely to it – and fortunate for us that He did.
About 14 months ago I was sitting in a pub with a good friend. We were talking and one of the matters that seemed to come up was the issue of me trusting God. Those who know me well know that trust is always a struggle for me, because of my background being bullied, coming from a broken home and losing a parent at young age.
But this was God.
I began to feel a very real conviction that I needed to surrender myself to Him, to let Him into my heart. Trust Him. I had fears, doubts and insecurities about it, but knew I had to do it nevertheless.
So that’s exactly what I did.
We prayed and I gave God permission to come into my heart and do business there.
It was against my better judgement – one of those moments where I knew it was the right thing to do, even though a part of me was very reluctant – so I just did it.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.
The last 14 months have, without question, been a valley time for me. A time where I have faced great darkness in myself, been humbled on various occasions, compelled to face up to the worst of myself and had to wrestle with God a lot. It has led me to a place of receiving personal prayer ministry and counselling for all the issues it has raised.
Yet, even through all of this, I have somehow felt positive. I have never once doubted that this is a necessary, healthy process. I haven’t liked it all the time, I’ve got angry with God more than once.
But I have had the strong sense that God is working on me, doing business with me, that I’m being refined, purified.
This is a painful process, it’s a tough journey to walk. Morpheus says in the Matrix that
“…there is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path”
I have discovered for myself the truth behind that statement. I have been walking a long, painful, path, but at the same time I have known that the journey is going somewhere, that there is going to be fruit to this labour.
In many ways it has felt like a process of death and resurrection.
Issues that have been hindering me for many years, things I’d ignored and brushed under the carpet, flaws I’d simply accepted rather than dealt with – all have been exposed and are being worked through with God.
In many ways this process is now ending, I am experiencing the resurrection beyond the death. New beginnings, healing and a freedom I didn’t have before. I’m still on a journey, but it’s a different kind of journey. I’m closer to God than ever before.
But to gain that I had to let go of the need to control the outcome and simply trust God. Trust that after death, there would be resurrection.
This whole journey has shown me the value of being honest and upfront with God about ourselves. It’s possible for us to know about our issues and simply hide from them or ignore them.
But we must be open and honest with God. It’s not like our issues are going to be a surprise to Him are they?
Now I don’t for one minute think my willingness to go through this process and experience makes me any kind of special person. Nor do I equate what I have done with Jesus going to the cross.
That took a very special, divine kind of faith, which I don’t pretend to possess. But death/resurrection is a good metaphor for this process, and like Jesus, it’s one we choose.
Now things may be good in our lives right at this moment. All going smoothly, no disruptions.
But maybe in this moment God is calling you out. Maybe He has been for some time but you’ve ignored it. Maybe He’s asking you to give Him your heart, trust Him with it, allowing Him to strip it down and show you areas you need to grow – or deal with areas you already know need healing.
It’s not a journey we should choose lightly. It’s may indeed be that it’s not something God is calling you to right now. If you are going to choose it, it will require discernment, wisdom and courage.
You see this process can be painful and difficult. It will involve wrestling and facing harsh truths. There’s no point pretending it’s easy. But the fruit could be better than you could imagine.
Ultimately though, this isn’t anyone else’s choice.
You know yourself. You know if there are issues you’re hiding from, habits or attitudes you wish were better, issues from the past you’ve brushed under the carpet.
You won’t ever be free until you face them.
If you do choose this process though, you won’t be alone. Every step of the way you’ll be with Jesus, someone who has chosen the valley before and overcome it.
It’s up to you.
Have you ever chosen the valley?
What issues in your life do you feel God calling you to face?
Are there things in your life you are simply ignoring, which God is speaking into?
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