Growing In the Valley

August 16, 2020

Genesis 26:19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

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Genesis 26 is a very enlightening chapter of the Bible about Isaac and his obedience to God, as well as his shortcoming in serving God. It also focuses on God’s grace, mercy, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence in how He deals with Isaac and us as well. In this chapter, Isaac, the son of Abraham is in a situation much like his father before him, where he is forced from his land due to a famine. God speaks to Isaac and tells him not to go to Egypt. Instead, Isaac is told by God to stay in the land of Gerar, and that God will be with him and he and his seed will be blessed.

After Issac lied to King Abimilech about Rebekah being his sister, Isaac is told to leave Gerar. But Isaac sets up residence in the valley of Gerar. Why would Isaac take up residence in the valley during a famine? First we need to understand some things about valleys. A type of landform, a valley is the low point of an area, typically, in between mountains or hills. Because of the rivers and streams that run through valleys, fresh water is plenteous and the soil is rich, making the valley a great place to grow food, crops, and raise cattle. Being that Isaac was a herdsman, one can see why he would choose the valley of Gerar to settle down.

While in the valley of Gerar, Isaac’s servants dug many wells and found spring water, so much so that the Philistines fought with them over ownership of the wells. But God, told Isaac to Fear not and gave him reassurance that HE would be with Isaac and keep his promise to Abraham concerning his seed.- Genesis 26:24 And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.

Wow! Every time I read this passage in the Bible, I see God’s work in my own life and can relate on so many different levels, both figuratively and literally. I have been at many low points in my life, and I can recall my lowest points, definitely my valleys. Not only have I been in the valley many times, I have also been in many different types of valleys.

I can recall being 23 years old, with two young children, and finding out for the first time, (there would be others) that I was cheated on by my then and now deceased husband. I had never felt such pain before. I really thought that I was going to stop breathing. I was in a daze, especially when he paraded her in front of me. Oh yeah, I was in the valley of despair.

I can recall being in the valley when he died of a massive heart attack at 28 years old, just as I thought that we had gotten over the rough parts of our marriage, put the past behind us, and were moving forward with a new commitment to love, trust, and honesty. But I would soon go deeper in the valley, when I realized that he died at the woman’s house he was cheating with, unbeknownst to me. I didn’t think I could go any deeper in the valley. Surely there are limits to the depths of valleys, right? But when I found out that they had a baby together, well…

I was in the valley when my brother died at 40 years old. Growing up without a father, he had been like a father to me in some ways and definitely a great big brother. I had a best friend in him and knew that I could always count on him. He had been there for me at so many times in my life. I was devastated and in the valley.

I thought I knew what being in the valley of despair and devastation was all about, until I lost my dear, precious mother August 15, 2008. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years already. There doesn’t seem to be any adequate words to describe the valley that I was in when my Mom passed. It was definitely a deeper valley than I had ever been in before. I stayed in that valley for almost 5 years.

I was in too many valleys to name during my 25-year abusive marriage to the second, now ex-husband. I would say the valleys in that period of my life out-numbered all of the other valleys. Although some of them were the same as with the first husband- valley of betrayal, valley of deceit, valley of despair, I went through valleys that I didn't even know existed. To name all of them would take much longer than this blog.

Growing up in church, I had always heard valleys referred to in a negative way- with the valley of the shadow of death being the valley that summed up all other valleys. The only reference I heard of anything positive about a valley, was Jesus being the Lily of the Valley. But really, that was just a name used to describe Jesus, but no explanation. So, I began to research valleys, as I knew they couldn’t be all negative.

What I’ve come to learn is the valley is not a place where you go to wait out your problems, your pain, and after the waiting period, you come out and rejoice for being out of the valley. The valley is not some dark place that has nothing more to offer than what you already have, and are experiencing. The valley is not a place to only be defined by what you’re going through.

I’ve learned that we go through many different valleys throughout our lives, all of them useful and necessary to bring us to the place that we are supposed to be in God. I’ve learned that some of those valleys have rivers running through them and that the rivers actually carve the valleys. My tears have for sure carved valleys in my life that placed me where I needed to be at that divine moment in time.

I’ve learned that because of the water in the valley that comes from the rivers and streams, at the bottom of many valleys is rich fertile soil. I’ve learned that a lot of growth happens in the valley and the growth from the vegetation is needed to support life. Indeed, my greatest periods of growth have been in the valleys of my life.

I’ve learned that some valleys are in flat land where the valleys are flat, deep, and wide. Other valleys are formed between hills and mountains, in which case they are deep and narrow. Sometimes, God allowed me to remain in the valley to cause me to narrow my focus on something. However, God also allowed me to remain in some valleys because He wanted to broaden my focus, open my mind, and show me more things-about myself, and/or the situation-but always about Him.

I’ve learned that the more valleys there are, the more mountains there are as well. So, the more low points I have in my life, the more high points I will have as well! I’ve learned to praise God for the low points, which have helped me to get to the high points in my life.

I’ve learned that a valley that is used for traveling through the mountains is called a "pass" and that when the mountains are very high, people who want to travel to the other side of the mountain must go through the valley. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to pass through some valleys in my life to get what God has in store for me on the other side of the mountain.

I’ve learned that through my periods of famine, the valley was the perfect place for me to be, to get what I needed to get. I’ve learned that in the valley, you have to put in the work to find the wells of springing water. And I’ve learned to Fear not, because God is with me and will fulfill His promises.

Perhaps you can relate to being in some valleys of your own. Perhaps there have been times in your life where you were at a low point or at your lowest point. Maybe that time is now. Don’t despair, as with Isaac, recognize that God is growing you in your valleys into the person that He has created you to be, for Him, and so that You can be used by Him.

Prayer:

Dear Father God,

Thank You Lord for the valleys in my life. I realize that there is rich fertile soil in the valley and wells of springing water for You to grow me into the person that You created me to be. I thank You Lord for the low points in my life, that has made me appreciate the high points even more. I need not fear in the valley Lord God, because I know that You are with me. Thank You for being with me Lord in each and every valley and for never leaving my side. I magnify You and give You all the glory Father God for being with me through my famines, and directing my steps Lord God, for providing for me, and drawing me closer to You. Thank You Father God for Your grace and mercy while in my valleys. Thank You Father God for blessing me and my seed. Give me the strength, energy, and the willpower to dig wells of springing water that You have reserved just for me. And whether I am in the valley or on the mountaintop, humble me Lord God, so that I can be used by You.

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen

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