15 April 2000

"And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water"-Genesis 26:19 Wells of springing water are seldom found on the mountain top. We must descend into the valley. Such we will find in our spiritual exercises. Though we all love the mountain top experiences, we cannot live there, the air is too thin. I have met those who claim they dwell there all the time. But I can not claim such an experience. Through much digging some water may be found upon the mountain, but "springing water" will be found in the dark valley. Have you been there? The mountain is the place for celebration, but the valley is the place of learning. It is in the valley that we learn more about God and His Son, as well as ourselves. It is a place of spiritual eyesight. No one wants to be in the valley. It is a frightening place. For there dwells doubts, fears, depressions, guilt and sorrow. But all of these may be assessed accurately and disposed of properly in the valley of vision. The valley was the habitation of the prophets, or seers, in Isaiah's day. Thus he writes, "The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?"-Isaiah 22:1. We live in a society that people are considered sick if they are in the valley. Give them a pill and send them on their way. Our world is one of gaiety and pride. We must never wear the long face or reveal an afflicted spirit. It is not condoned. Many time drugs, alcohol and entertainment are used to keep people floating on some kind of mountain. But I believe the valley is a place that every child of God must travel from time to time. We must descend into the valley to be humbled. We must descend into the valley to be tried. We must descend to see and understand. There are things that one will find in the valley that can never be found on the mountain. Our sins will not be revealed on the mountain. We must descend from our exalted position to see into our own heart. Zephaniah wrote, "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord"(Zeph 3:12). "In the midst" of a proud world, such a people will be found; those who have been afflicted by their sin. Surely, they have sojourned in the valley. How else did they learn they were poor and needy? How did they come to trust in the "name of the Lord"? On the mountain they were rich, in need of nothing. But in the valley saw their need and found One who is sufficient. His name is Jesus. He is the well of "springing water". Pride is unobserved upon the mountain. Nebuchadnezzar must be humbled as a beast of the field for seven seasons until he acknowledges the sovereignty of God and the giver of every good and perfect gift. Saul of Tarsus must enter the valley and count all things but dung that he may win Christ. On the mountain Peter denied his Lord, but in the valley he found Him. And though Job was not given to pride he found his answer in the valley. Mark ye well this kindred experience! The acute afflictions of the righteous do not come without reward. They have a purpose. There are many valley experiences. Jesus is the "lily of the valleys". Not the valley singular, but the "valleys" plural. He will be found in every one showing forth His majesty and sending out His healing fragrance. Have you found Him there? I close today with a prayer I found in a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions by Author Bennett entitled "The Valley of Vision": "LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY, Thou has brought me to the valley of vision, Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; Hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, That to be low is to be high, That the broken heart is the healed heart, That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, That the repenting soul is the victorious soul, That to have nothing is to possess all, That to bear the cross is to wear the crown, That to give is to receive, That the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, And the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley." Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor