God of the hills and valleys
“He’s God of the hills and valleys.” (Tauren Wells)
While listening to the Sunday readings one day (Luke 17:5-10… faith the size of a mustard seed), I was reminded of the faith to move mountains, and how good it felt to be up on the mountain of faith. Consolation after consolation, winning at spirituality and consistency, basking in the glow of God’s love. When was the last time I felt like I was on top of that mountain? Too long ago, in my estimation. I often find myself chasing those past highs: the beautiful sunset after a retreat in high school, the women’s retreat I went on in college, the deep deep conversations I wish I could replay over and over again, my wedding day, the churches I visited in Rome. If I can’t have my hill of motherhood, maybe I can just get back to a different hill…
Wait… Do I want God or the “hill”? God is indeed God of the hill, and He is up there. When I’m striving for holiness, am I striving for closeness with God, and do I think the only way to attain that is by getting up the next dang hill or recreating my past hills? Have my hills actually become stumbling blocks?
In some ways I have to thank God for not letting me experience the “hill” of getting-pregnant-according-to-my-own-plan. Oh how much I would have boasted of that hilltop. The Lord knows I would have dwelt on it as confirmation that I was clearly doing things the right way. I would have worshipped that hill. Instead I have faced what I perceive to be a valley of infertility, and it has been here where God has intimately revealed Himself, gently poking at all my self-deception, unveiling my self-sufficient tendencies, uncovering ways I have mistaken blessings as proof of my own righteousness rather than gifts which I ought to be returning right back to the Lord in full.
Not that I ought to worship this valley either. I do believe there is a possibility of slipping into that as well. I can very easily make infertility my “brand”, an opportunity to make my “woe is me” my showcase.
Long ago I reflected on how we are called to be like the sanctuary candle. Have you ever paid attention to the singular red candle, burning almost every day of the year, 24/7, next to the tabernacle? It is there to be a beacon of Who is truly there. It is not an end unto itself; it is always pointing toward Someone else. Imagine if we were to be like that candle on hills and in valleys of life. We would be lighting the way in the valley, showing to all the way to find refuge in the Lord. Up on the hill we would truly be a light to be revealed to the world, not of the hill itself, but of God’s infinite goodness beyond what the hill has to offer.