Names of places in Quebec, the French province in Canada, are very descriptive. Or so we would learn, as we trudged to the top of Mont Erable (Mount Maple) in Le Parc National des Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie – Literally translated, “The National Park of the High Gorges of the Malbaie River”.
But what was even more impressive than the name was the view from the top. From here we could look down into the Malbaie river gorge, 3000 feet (1000 metres) below. Absolutely stunning.
As I sat on a rock enjoying not only the view, but the chance to rest my legs that had just hiked 5.3 km straight up (or so it seemed), it occurred to me that I had seen this view before. Many times.
How could this be? I had never been to this part of Quebec before, and before today, I had never heard of this national park, let alone seen pictures from the summit of Mont Erable!
As I sat there, pondering all of this, I was suddenly overcome with the presence of God, and I knew: Yes, I had seen this view before. Many times. You see, when I am in a “valley” period of my life, when circumstances are less than favourable, when the problems seem to smother me and there is no hope in site, I have often cried out to God, and He has shown me exact same view from the top of Mont Erable! And then He has gone on to reassure me that though I might be in a “valley” of my life, He is there to sustain me, to bring me through, until the day when I would once again stand on the top!
And the best part is, He has done just that! Each and every time!
As I sat there praising God, it occurred to me that the view from the top of Mont Erable would be nothing if it weren’t for the deep gorges. If not for the valleys below, I could just as well be looking out across a field. It is the deep valleys that make the beautiful view. It is the deep valleys that make for the exhilarating climb. It is the deep valleys that remind us of the beauty of the mountain top!
So often I have received emails from people who feel that God has abandoned them in a valley of their lives. I often hear: “I thought Christ came to give us abundant life, not this suffering and misery I’ve had all my life!” Another common one is, “If God is all powerful, then He must not care for me, because He isn’t delivering me from my ______” The blank is usually filled in with illness, financial difficulties, family problems, etc.
It poses an interesting question, doesn’t it? God IS all powerful, and He IS a God of love. So if He can do something about our suffering, why doesn’t He do it?
But would we truly appreciate the “mountain top” experiences of our lives, if it weren’t for the “valleys”? Wouldn’t we come to take the wonderful things in our lives for granted, if we didn’t see the high gorges of problems we’ve had to overcome?
I read an interesting text in the Bible recently:
“He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.” (Ps 104:10-11 NKJV)
Water is often used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit (See John 7:37-39). Can it be that the Psalmist, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us in this verse that it is in the valleys of our lives where the Holy Spirit can pour forth in all His power? And as a result, the earth is watered?
Can it be that it is especially in the “valleys” of our lives that we can feel the power of God the most?
Can it be that the “abundant life” Christ promises to believers doesn’t mean a life without problems? Can it be that this life in abundance really refers to a life of experiencing the power of God working through our problems?
Can it be that “abundant life” refers to the joy, peace, and blessings we can find while in the “valleys” of life, if we put our hope in God and Him alone? If we let Him lead us through? If we keep our eyes fixed on Him?
Can it be that our walk with God can never be as deep if our lives are spent on the “mountain top”?
(To access the entire “Mountain-Top Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)