In the Valley

I come to this song in a very different place than when I first heard it. This was released way back in 2006, back when I had two kids and was just getting my feet wet in full-time youth ministry. It's another one of those tunes that's become an old friend. We don't talk every day, but she's there when I need her, ready to remind me of her simple, poetic, and paradoxical message.

I love how it begins. "When you lead me to the Valley of Vision..." This must be the foundation for the Christian as we walk through the valley. Valleys don't happen by chance. We don't stumble into them. We are led there, sometimes gently by the hand, other times with a bit more force, like dragging a dog by his collar to the vet.

As I look back at the valleys I've walked through I must say I've come to love them. That may sound strange, but it's true. Granted, it's a lot easier to say that on this side of a deep one. I know a few friends that are traveling valleys of their own, and comments like, "Don't worry. It's just a season. You'll get through it okay" seem very shallow. But it doesn't mean the sentiment isn't true. That's because God not only leads us to the valleys, He leads us through them. Psalm 23 reminds us "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me."

There are so many reminders of the presence of the Lord in the valley. How many of the Psalms have verses with the phrase "Out of the depths I cry to You"? Even in the darkest places the Lord invites us to call upon Him. Even when His hand of loving discipline (Heb. 12:6) is upon us, He still showers us with grace and love.

I've seen this so many times in my own life. When I almost lost everything back in 2009 God provided a place to live, healthcare for my new baby, a family that loved me and supported me, a job that I didn't love, but that provided for my needs. When I knew things wouldn't work out at my church in 2013 and planned on doing the apartment with 3 kids while going to seminary thing, God provided a new opportunity in TN to lead worship. Most recently, when so much of my life fell apart, God was with me every step of the way. He had a different path for me and a future that could only be revealed by dragging me into the valley. I would never have gone here willingly. But it was where I needed to go and I'm so thankful for where I've ended up.

For some reason, in this season of my life, I needed to move in a completely new direction. Instead of full-time ministry, I now serve as a lay person in my church. Instead of being married, I'm learning to be content in my singleness. Instead of working in music I'm working in graphic design and social media. Instead of my whole world wrapped up in church I'm spending time with my band and meeting new groups of friends. None of these paths are ones I would have willingly chosen, but God in His wisdom placed me here, and I've come to really enjoy the early stages of this new life.

With such a track record of faithfulness, not just in my life, but throughout scripture, how can I not trust Him? How can I not look with anticipation at the fog covered way ahead, wondering what opportunity could be around the bend. Perhaps it's the simple ordinary life of being a father, a churchman, a hard-worker, and a Christian. Perhaps there will be more. But I know at a minimum He will be with me, and He is and will be my reward.

Wherever God leads, and whatever valleys still lie ahead, I hope that I always "Find Your grace in the valley... Your joy in my sorrow, Your wealth in my need..." The surest way to see clearly in the valley is to be saturated by the Word and to be immersed in songs that point back to that Truth. This is one of those songs I'm so thankful to have when depression and discouragement come my way. I hope it is encouraging to whomever may be reading this as well.

In the Valley
by Bob Kauflin, based on the Valley of Vision  prayer "The Valley of Vision"

When you lead me to the valley of vision, I can see you in the heights.
And though my humbling wouldn't be my decision,
It's here Your glory shines so bright.
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown, to be low is to be high,
That the valley's where You make me more like Christ.

Let me find Your grace in the valley.
Let me find Your life in my death.
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow,
Your wealth in my need,
That You're near with every breath
In the valley.

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens, but they only shine at night.
And the deeper that I go into darkness,
The more I see their radiant light.
So let me learn that my losses are my gain, to be broken is to heal,
That the valley's where Your power is revealed.


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