"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys." Billy Graham
Scenic views or tough roads?
When I read the Billy Graham quote, it made me think about the last few years of my life. I've longed for scenic views and encouragement. In fact, the idea of enjoying rest and relaxation in the sunshine surrounded by beautiful views sounds wonderful. I can imagine the sun on my skin, a gentle breeze blowing and scents of wildflowers relaxing me as I recline on the mountain admiring the view. It seems like this scenario would make me feel really close to God...and I tell myself that I would be so ready to learn from him. Hmmmm. Is that the ideal growth scenario? Views and inspiration are necessary at times but it's not our everyday life or destination. At least, it has not been my reality.
Over the recent years it seems like my family has dwelt in the valley. Gray days and drizzle would describe the experiences better. Sometimes hurricane force winds and torrential rain threatened to wash us away. Not literal wind and rain but the kind of life circumstances that just knock you over. Some of these experiences definitely relates to the Semper Vita journey. The only way that we survived dwelling in the valley is through the prayer of friends and family. These prayers are the only reason we're still standing. We're not just standing, we're experiencing peace and we're smiling. God has been so good. If you've been praying for us - "Thank you!" Please keep the prayers coming.
Billy Graham's quote reminds me that the purpose of the valley is to produce much fruit. God allowed us these years in the valley to grow our character and to grow us in our relationship with him. What a privilege. What a journey. I cannot wait to see what fruit he is producing in and through us.
God's word promises us that we will survive the valleys because Jesus is with us. And, if we stay close to him, we will produce much fruit - the kind that will last.
"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. you honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:4-6, New Living Translation
Jesus said:"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me." John 15: 1-4, New Living Translation.