Through the Valley | Waiting

PART 1 OF 3 – THROUGH THE VALLEY SERIES

Have you ever had a ‘mountaintop experience?’ This is usually associated with an astounding victory or accomplishment you experienced. Typically, this terminology is used in Christian circles referencing a retreat or camp in the mountains where the Lord meets you in a special way. Our young adult ministry at my church, The WELL, recently came back from the mountains of Big Bear, California. The Lord met us as we prayed for one another, encouraged each other, and worshipped God for what He is doing in each of our lives. What an incredible time it was!

The WELL Retreat | Ascent

While it’s one thing to get away for a weekend to have an encounter with God, it’s another to persevere on the journey He has us on in our everyday lives. It takes intentionality and focus to take what you learn at the mountaintop (and what we learn on Sundays as well) and to apply it. That’s the hope for this blog – to live a life extraordinary through the ordinary, to live the Spirit-filled life in everyday life!

Another part of that reality is that many times we do not feel like we are on the mountaintop: a place where we meet the Lord and He meets us. If the mountaintop represents victory, we could be wondering why we are still wallowing in defeat? Instead of ascending upwards on the climb towards meeting the Lord face to face, we feel confused, burdened, and aimless… not sure how we are to face the circumstances and fight through them. It seems instead, that we are walking through a valley and that valley… does not have an end in sight.

Elijah was a prophet of God who had just experienced an incredible victory for God and for Israel on Mount Caramel. It was the case of the classic showdown – the 450 prophets of Baal vs. 1 prophet of God. Each built an altar and the true God would respond by fire. The prophets of Baal spent hours pleading and appeasing their god, but no answer. Yet the God of Elijah, Yahweh, did answer by sending fire down from heaven as the people exclaimed, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Kings 18:39). The people then realized that there is only one, true God in Israel and, then, rain came down to remove the curse of the land.

Wow! If this wasn’t a mountaintop experience, I don’t know what is! Elijah had experienced a profound victory by seeing God provide in a supernatural way. After a revelation of the Lord’s power in such a dramatic way, victory should be the norm for Elijah now. What could go wrong?  Well, let’s see what happens next…


“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,  while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” – 1 Kings 19:1-5a

What happened?!?

Elijah immediately went from the mountaintop to the valley.[1] He knew the threat from Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife was real; Jezebel was known to work through her husband to get what she wanted. If she means it, then it’s going to happen. It looks like Elijah became fixated on the circumstances and forgot the victory that just took place.

This is a sober reminder for us todaywhat we keep our eyes on determines our level of faith. Will we be overcome by fear and forget what God has done? Or will we walk in faith and forge ahead through the circumstances?

I remember back when I was dating Valerie (now my wife of 4 years) that it was a ‘mountaintop’ experience. We were getting to know one another, go on adventurous dates, and it seemed that we were drawing closer together. On top of all that, I knew that she was ‘the one.’ The Lord showed me in a revelatory way that this was the person I was to marry. It looked like ascending to the summit was going to happen in no time when it came to marriage!

Then all of a sudden, we were not speaking to each other anymore. The connection that we once had… was gone. The reality of the promise the Lord gave me was far-fetched and seemed like wishful thinking at best. How am I supposed to be with someone when they are not in my life? What happened to the promise? After each month had gone by, the difficulty in understanding increased as well. However, the most difficult part was not just that I wasn’t with her, but in my relationship with the Lord. I thought, “I feel that I am called to help others hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, but I cannot do it for my own life. How am I supposed to point others to you when it’s not a reality for me?” I realized I was now immediately in a valley and I had no idea what to do.

It took 9 months before we spoke again and I had to learn to trust God in the waiting. Through the confusion and the want, I drew near to God and He helped me through the valley. This was a valley I had to go through in order to ascend up the mountain with Valerie as now a partner in marriage.

While I realize you may not be facing that current dilemma, we all have particular areas of our lives that we are in waiting. How do I know this? Christ-followers should always be waiting for something. If not, this would mean that we are satisfied with where we are. In other words, we are living below the calling God has in store for us. If we are not waiting, then we are not trusting and caring about the future God has for us and for others.

Therefore, the question isn’t “are you waiting” but “how are you waiting?” How we wait determines where our faith is. In the waiting, we can worry – trying to figure out how it should get done and fuss over the details, even when there’s no real answer? Or, in the waiting, we can worship – giving praise to the Father even when we are tired of walking through the valley; loving God even if you currently don’t have what you want. Worrying brings the focus upon oneself while worshipping focuses upon the One greater than ourselves. 

Like I said above, there are areas of our life in which the waiting can seem like we are trekking through a never-ending valley. Here are some that came to mind…

  • Career – What am I supposed to do with my life?
    • The valley of the unknown and desire for significance
  • Community – Who can I journey on this life that will strengthen and encourage me and vice versa?
    • The valley of not feeling known, loved, or understood
  • Discipleship – how I am drawing closer to Jesus? What impact am I making on those around me? What is my fruit?
    • The valley of not feeling ‘good or gifted enough’ or being capable to be used by God
  • Dissatisfaction  – Why don’t I have joy? Peace? Provision? The valley of unfulfilled needs or feeling spiritually dry
  • Unanswered prayers – God do you hear me? Praying for unsaved loved ones, healing, and transformation but it has not happened yet.
    • The valley of frustration, depression, and feeling uncared for

Obviously, this list can go on. My question for you is, what area of your life do you feel you that you are in the valley? Are there wants not currently met, prayers that you are repeatedly asking for, and desires unfulfilled that make you feel that you are slowly plodding along in this valley? Take this time to check your response on how you wait… is it through worry or worship? What does the Holy Spirit have to say about how you should respond in this situation?

Next week, I’ll share further thoughts about the valley and what the Lord has for each of us. Consider this the 1st of a 3 part series.

Blessings!


[1] I’ve heard this expressed as ‘the Elijah syndrome’ – the downfall after a huge victory. 

7 Comments



  1. You’re right. The “waiting” time is difficult for all of us, and yes, somethimes we ask ourselfs if could be better if we come back to Egypt ??. The situation that you don’t “think” is that you got to far already and Egypt, is not going to be waiting for your “come back”with open arms…

    1. Author

      True! ‘Egypt’ is that false sense of security that we once had… it can tend to look ‘better’ when we are trials and they seem like they are never going to end! Yet we have to remember that God is for us and will get us through whatever it is we are currently experiencing. Thanks for sharing Jorge!

  2. In Mark, Jesus tells of the 4 different types of soil that the seed lands on: no soil (by the wayside), stony, thorns, good ground. I have a question and maybe an answer: how do I become “good soil” and avoid the other 3?
    I think the answer may be this: God gave Adam and us both our lives and the Earth to till: proper “tilling” of both creates the necessary environment for the seed to take root, grow, thrive.
    So, it is MY personal conscientious responsibility to do my part to develop and maintain my own plot of good soil.
    QUESTION: HOW do I do and maintain this good soil? So that The Word In fact DOES take root and grow in me? Is it eliminating stuff that doesn’t matter? Being around the right people? Cleaning out my material stuff, living minimally, ……HOW BEST TO I TILL MYSELF, MY OWN SOIL, so that the Word takes root???
    All answers welcome!!!

    1. Author

      Great question and answers to the 4 soils!
      I think in response to the waiting we face in the valley, we definitely do have our responsibility to ’till the ground’ with the promises God has given us. We have to take those promises, declare them over our lives, and keep digging to develop our plot of good soil. In time, we will “reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) and the character the Holy Spirit was developing in our lives is now more refined and ready to be used for more of God’s glory.

      1. Thank You! Good stuff. Paul said “constant renewing of the mind”, and maybe that goes right into our constant attention and vigilance . Continuous. In order to maintain fertile soil.
        John

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