I can't get away from this whole Valley of Baca thing. I have pondering in my little head for the past 2 days about this. I have walked down memory lane of my journey through the valley and "stumbled" upon my old road map. I thought I would share it with you today.
I didn't recognized it as a road map during my journey, but upon reflection, I see that as a child I was handed the road map and told to store it in my heart to have a feel for the layout of the valley when I got there. Of course, I didn't get the map all in one piece. I got most of the pieces at home, from mom and dad. Other pieces I received in children's church, Sunday School, and Missionettes. Hmmmm...... (I am replaying a Dorinda version of "National Treasure" in my head.)
So, today, I dug out my road map. Again, I am amazed at the planning of my Savior, the lover of my soul, at how He orchestrates the revelation of this map for the journey through the Valley of Baca, known to us as the Valley of Adversity and Weeping. (I liked the comment about it sometimes being Big Baca- or Big Valley.... :) )
If you click here, you will see a copy of the map I used through the Valley of Adversity and Weeping. It is the book of Philippians. Yep, that's right. God lined it all out for us through the life of Paul.
Think about Paul's life for a moment. The book of Philippians was written while he was in prison. The theme of the book of Philippians is "rejoice" or "joy". Well, I have to say, as wonderful as a Christian as I think I am (oh, yeah, right!), I'm just not quite so sure, I would be able to author a letter to my dear friends about rejoicing while I was chained to a wall in a cesspool of mire and waste. Mine would probably sound more like~ "Gloom, despair, and agony on me.... Oooohhhhh". But Paul, a devout and passionate follower of Jesus Christ, pens a letter to the believers at Philippi, telling them to rejoice. Sixteen times in this book he is talking about joy and rejoicing. Well, you go, Paul!
But, that is exactly how you find your way out of the Valley of Adversity and Weeping. I have highlighted the "tourist spots" on this road map.
Chapter 1 starts with a pray for the Philippians - a prayer that we can claim as a promise!
"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." I don't know about you, but to me, that means, God is not going to leave me to rot in the Valley of Weeping! Hallelujah!
Not too far down the road, we get another pit stop, which happens to be another prayer. I would say these help us read the map for the rest of the trip. The prayers help us put everything else into focus.
"This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God."
If you have a magnifying glass out looking at the road map, center it in on "that you may be able to discern what is best". How do you discern? -By love abounding more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. Okay, that is deep. Take a minute and let that digest in your spirit.
The very next stop is verse 12. A divine discernment. "Now, I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel". He continues with the God view of his troubles. Something we should really consider on our journey.
Look with me now at verse 20. (I love this guy!) "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."I want you to picture the vast expanse of the desert Valley. You are traveling through and you just can't see the end. You feel hopeless and very much so like giving up. But- take out your road map- and you get a feel for the whole layout of the valley! You know that someone else has been here, survived, and put the landmarks down on a map! - Why? Because in verse 19 Paul said "...... what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."
With that boost of information, you can go a little further. You look down at your map and you have some encouragement. Paul gives us a little warning about some detours that he warns us not to take. Chapter 2, verses 3 and 4 encourage us not to take the road marked "Self Absorbed". It doesn't look as difficult. The path seems easier, and it looks as if there is even an oasis down that road! But Paul encourages, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Well, that should be a big warning sign for us.If we can't take that road, where do we go from here? Referring again to the map, we see the path highlighted for us. It looks extremely difficult and rough. Surely Paul was mistaken! But there it is, in black and white. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...."
Paul's side notes say that the road "Servant hood" is the way to go. Hmmmmm....... Lest we forget our promise at the other side, Paul reminds us: "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.""Do everything without complaining or arguing..." Now I know the scriptures are inspired, because Paul couldn't know what was just about to come out of my mouth...."But God, why can't I take that easy path. Why do I have to walk so long and so far? Why does it have to be so hard? Why can't I just fly over there?" whine whine, whine whine whine. (That's me- How many times have I sounded like a good little Israelite?)
The trip is long and hard, as I mentioned the other day. We must look to our Savior and find our strength and our joy and nourishment from Him. It is the only way. We are starting to lose things on the journey. Things that before, we thought we couldn't live with out. Things are lost that are weighing us down. For the sake of the trip, we cast it aside without a second thought. Just when we feel like we can't go any further, we start to see the purpose and the meaning of it all.Philippians 3:7-9 starts shedding light on the formation of our character and integrity during the journey. "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Suddenly, we find our purpose has changed! No longer is it just about getting through to the other side taking the easiest path- it is about getting to the Savior! Seeking His face. Sitting at His feet. Wrapped in His embrace. Breathing in His presence. Basking in His love. It's all about HIM!!!
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death."
I notice a quickness in my step- not to get out of the valley. No. The hurry, the anticipation is there, just to be near Him! It doesn't matter if I have to stay here a little longer, as long as He is here! I drink in the nearness of His Spirit! My feet begin to run. My heart is pounding. He is here! In the midst of my pain and suffering, in the depth of my sorrow, I run, I leap, I throw myself at His feet! He is in the Valley of Adversity and Weeping!
In His presence I find fullness of joy! I don't have to drag it out of my heart. It overflows. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" I am shouting my joy in the midst of my valley of adversity and weeping. Oh, I am not joyful at my circumstance. I am sure Paul was not just thrilled either to be in prison and chained. But - we live in the flesh but walk in the spirit.
See it right there, tucked in between these well known verses? Right there in verse 5: "Let your gentleness be evident to all. THE LORD IS NEAR!" (I have read Philippians over and over again, and have never seen that verse!)
Verse 6: "Do not be anxious about anything...... with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Paul's last major set of instructions for our map are in the remainder of Chapter 4. Please, please take time to meditate on these powerful scriptures! Don't just read this and discard.
Our "mantra" in 4:8 Things we are to think about - always at all times!
Our "motto" in 4:12 Attitude we are to live with - always at all times!
Our "might" in 4:13 Strength we are to draw from - always at all times!
Our "measure" in 4:19 Provision to live by - always at all times!
I pray for you today! I pray that you will find Him in your valley. I pray you are able to discern His truth as opposed to the deception of the enemies of your soul. I pray you know Him in depth and understanding. I pray you rejoice in all situations. I pray you find your strength in Him and trust in Him. May you call upon Him and rest in His arms. Allow Him to flood your soul with His amazing love and grace, mercy and compassion. I pray these things in that Precious Name of Jesus- that at the mention of that name the demons in hell will tremble. I plead the blood of Jesus over your body, your soul and your spirit. Amen.
I pray in my heart of hearts that you use this "Road Map" for your journey through the Valley of Adversity and Weeping. As always, if you know of someone who needs this today, click on the little envelope below and email it to them!
I love you all!