Mountains, Valleys, and the Other Side (Bonus post, it’s not Thursday!)

My word for 2022 was “mountain”. As I began to look into this word, I found it had many meanings for me.

You may be thinking, “Why in the world, ‘mountain’? Climbing mountains is hard work!” True. But over the last few years I’ve climbed one mountain after another. Yes, it’s been hard. But I discovered a different meaning and have been able to experience it this year.

Mountain also meant being closer to God. And the only way to get to the top of that mountain is up.

Here’s the way my year has gone over the past three years. Mid-January began a time of prayer and fasting with the rest of my church. Each night was a time of intimate but corporate worship, something I had never been a part of before. Made all the difference in the world in how I experienced those 21 days. At the end of that 21 days we gathered for a night of intense corporate worship time.  Then our small groups started new semesters of studying one book of the Bible. August came around and it was repeated: prayer and fasting, worship, Bible study.

If it had not been for my choice to participate in that time, I would have been a basket case. 2020 and 2021 were the two sides to one rock. Rock as in hard. At the end of each time of prayer and fasting, something major happened in my life, and not anything good I might add. Turned my world upside down and inside out.

2022 was a bit different as I didn’t have anything catastrophic except at the beginning of the August fast when I took a fall and my face ended up on the pavement. But I made a new friend with that one. With the help of my brother and sister-in-law, we cleaned out my parents’ house, my home for most of my growing up years. Then we sold it! Bittersweet. The last half of my year has been weird physically for me with all kinds of odd maladies coming my way.

As a result of all this, I dug deeper into His word than ever before and kept climbing that mountain. Closer to God was the only place I wanted to be. I learned so much. In the past 3 years I have had the opportunity to lead a group of ladies in Bible study. We went through Mark, Acts, James, and Daniel. Then this past semester, I was able to join another group of ladies as we studied Hebrews.

I learned that God is the God of the other side. The other side of finding a new church home. The other side of having to put my parents in a nursing home and the horrible process to get there. The other side of dementia. The other side of hurricanes. The other side of losing both my parents within 8 months of each other. The other side of telling my childhood home goodbye. The other side of one of my best friends planning a move—away.

In between mountains are valleys. Valleys are not always bad things. I’ve seen some really beautiful valleys, always with the view of the mountains. And there were usually rivers or streams running through them. Valleys cause us to look up.

Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas
Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

As I made my way up the mountains I sometimes stumbled. Sometimes I felt I slid all the way back down and had to start over with cuts and bruises and gashes from the fall. But always, ALWAYS, looking up. Looking up is the only way to see His face. The only way to seek His face. And when you get to the top you can see just how far you’ve come.

Cue the music: “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from you.”

I haven’t found my word for 2023 yet but I’m sure it will be perfect for my journey. And it’s all about the journey after all, yes?

 

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