Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On Valleys

And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  And there she shall  answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. -- Hosea 2:15

The word “valley” came to me this morning.  I am in one.  It’s not bad; it’s just a valley.  The “valley of Achor” means the valley of trouble, but, through faith, trouble is becomes hope, a door that opens into a wider place of vision and understanding. 

A valley may be big or small, but it has a visible boundary.  The barriers that create the valley cut off our ability to see what lies beyond them.  The horizon is above us, perhaps far above us, and we may not be able to see a way out.  We may be called to live in the valley for a time -- short, long, or indefinite, and it is a place where we can live – peace in the valley and all that. 

Vineyards speak of both permanence and joy, wine being a symbol of the Spirit, of the joy of the Lord, and of life in Christ.  Nomads and wanderers do not plant vineyards.  A valley is a place of cultivation because it is sheltered and can be hidden.  The same heights that cut off the view from within protect it from exposure.  The storms that assail and batter the heights are not so severe when they reach the lower ground. 

We may feel compelled, from time to time, to scale the heights, to find a pass and to look beyond the bounds of our valley.  We do not know, when we have grazed on those vistas, whether we will turn back to our vineyards in the soft land below or be drawn on to find yet another valley with its trouble and hope.  For, as much as we may long for the visions from the mountaintops, few are called to live there at all times.

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