”Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7 NIV
These verses describe the spiritual journey each person who longs to wholeheartedly seek after God must take. They embody the essential elements of every epic tale or narrative.
The Bible, mythology, literature and cinematic productions all enthrall us with the story of the hero or heroine venturing forth on a quest to fully apprehend that for which they have been destined. Whether it is Abraham and Sarah, Bilbo Baggins, Indiana Jones or Dorothy, the script follows the same story line.
1. There is an inward beckoning or outward call to leave the security of home for a stouthearted journey into the unknown. (“set their hearts on pilgrimage”)
2. There is the fated passage through one or more deep valleys and trials. (“they pass through the Valley of Baca”)
3. There is the awakening in the hero or heroine, despite fear, of an inner determination to do whatever it takes to survive. (“they make it a place of springs”) – Given lemons they make lemonade)
4. There are the hero or heroine’s need for and discovery of a strength beyond themselves that leads them ultimately to triumph. (“blessed are those whose strength is in you” – God.)
5. There is a journey’s end in which they can celebrate and look back to see that they have been transformed into a better self. (“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”) The New Testament counterpart is “But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2
Faith-building spiritual journeys must of necessity pass through valleys. This particular valley, the Valley of Baca, literally means a valley of weeping. Such valleys are places of deprivation and testing that are meant to lead to the refining and strengthening of our faith. The Apostle Peter, not unfamiliar with his own valley of weeping [Luke 22:62] wrote. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
What a person does in the valley will determine their path to victory.
The good news is valleys are not places where we are meant to live. They are only temporary wayside places we are passing through. Even the valley of the shadow of death is described as a place we must only pass through. (Psalm 23:4) And notably it is in the presence of God, who is there with His rod and staff to comfort us and keep us from fear.
Where are you in your epic journey of faith? Have you answered the call and struck out into the unknown? Are you facing a faith testing valley? Is there a stirring in your heart to rise to the challenge? Is your strength failing and are you feeling overcome with weakness? Think about all those who have gone before and are now like a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on from their place of victory in Zion. (Hebrews 12:1) Remember this and repeat it after me: “I am just passing through!”
Click Here for an email subscription to this blog.