The Dark and Scary Lowlands. This is the journey no one wants to embark upon. It’s the place where the waters flow down slick mountainsides and flash floods are normal occurrences. The lowland valley is completely surrounded by mountains and constantly shadowed in darkness. It is cold here and escape-proof…or so we think.
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Arriving in the dark and scary lowlands
We find ourselves in these lowlands, often quite suddenly. Perhaps our self-confidence was soaring as we walked along the mountain peaks. Perhaps in that confidence, we waded too deeply into a side stream only to become caught in its current. Tossed and thrown against the rocks, we nearly drowned in waters over our head. We tumulted down and down, landing finally, in the lowland. At first, we rejoiced at being alive…until we realized our surroundings.
For such a time as this
Today, we’ll take a brief look at Psalms 23:4, the first half only. It is highlighted below. I am going to share some photos taken during our mini-rest that I spoke of in yesterday’s post. In fact, the rest was so good that I didn’t do my usual ‘stay-up-’til 1 or 2 am’ thing in order to get this post ready by 12am today. No…it’s about noon on Sunday as I write to you and I am, for once in a long while, not feeling like I absolutely MUST have a nap within the next hour or so! Take a look at the highlighted verse and then I’ll leave you with some of my thoughts about it.
Don’t tremble! He’s in the lowlands, too!
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The dark and scary lowlands don’t have to be…
quite so dark and scary. We may not always be able to avoid the undertow, but once there, we can position ourselves in the rare places that feel the sun. The jagged mountains surrounding us can be rounded out and in time, flattened by our preparation in God’s Word. We can also train ourselves in the awareness of God’s presence, kicking fear out the door as faith grows. There may not be a way out, but there is a way to cast mountains into the sea. I know it’s so, because the Word says so and because I’ve lived it. We’ll get into ‘casting’ in my next post.
My exhortation to you today, however, is two-fold: 1) As emphasized yesterday, take time to rest in God! 2) Whether away from home or at home, determine to be aware of every little thing around you that God has placed in this world for your benefit. Command your soul to see those benefits and as it obeys, thank God for them. This is a great opportunity to practice awareness. Take note of, capture and throw out toxic thoughts as they try to enter. Recognize that this is the enemy at work and slam the door in his face! If you suddenly become aware that you are thinking sourly, give yourself a stern, “NO!” Consider planning ahead by creating a written list of songs to sing or calming verses of Scriptures to say aloud (or think about), in case of such emergencies!
Store up defenses against the dark and scary
Today, I leave you with encouragement to take times of rest in whatever form (acceptable to God) that you can find. We can shore up reserves of strength to be ‘at the ready’ in these times of battle just by being in his Word daily. Daily Word is daily rest! Even if our bodies and minds don’t immediately recognize this, our spirits do! Another way to arm ourselves for upcoming battles is through those mini-rests I spoke of yesterday. Such days are earmarked, not only for getting away from our stresses but for zoning in on God, specifically in our thoughts. It’s a time to meditate on God’s care and love for us; to acknowledge and appreciate his countless thoughts towards us through a heart of gratefulness.
Your rest days don’t need to be just like our mini-vacation to Chincoteague island. In many folks’ eyes, this is the tip of the iceberg regarding vacations. To as many others, however, it is beyond what is ‘doable’ regarding time or finances. I understand because in our 42-year marriage, we have been on every side of that coin. So find what works, but don’t just read this and give up because your vacay isn’t like mine! Put your mind and prayers to it, and God will be faithful in helping you come to an answer that works for you. He is a personal God and never puts any of us in a mold!
Document your rest times
Finally, whatever God brings to you, journal (write about) or take pictures once you ‘go for it’. It doesn’t matter how simple your time of rest is, document whatever your spirit prompts you to be grateful about. There is so much right under our noses that we don’t appreciate every day…this is the time for that appreciation! And this is one way we can store up and prepare our defenses for that day when we suddenly realize a flood has washed us into the dark and scary lowlands. Think of it as ‘saving for a rainy day. The documentation of God’s faithfulness to you today may keep you faithful to him in the future.
REST in your rest-times!!!!
Refrain from heavy planning for your rest times! This is of utter importance! Have you ever been ‘on vacation’ with people who don’t know how to vacation? They absolutely must be doing something every minute possible and then come home as tired and unrefreshed as they left. Hmmm… it’s possible ‘they’ have been ‘me’ in the past! All this said, keep in mind that we’re discussing times of rest specifically purposed for closeness to God and ‘soul rest’. You wouldn’t plan this kind of rest in conjunction with a trip to Disney!
When we schedule this special time of rest, we need to remember the focus. Not disciplining ourselves to slow down and breathe in God can be just as damaging as not taking rests in the first place. When you take your mini-rest, don’t forget to factor in rest as the biggest part of your time. Push back suggestions from the enemy that you tour every nook and cranny of your environment. Don’t cave to thinking you’re wasting time by not discovering all there is to know about where you are. DO think you’re wasting time by rushing past the nuggets of discovery God would have you notice!
I’m reminded of an old song….It’s my gift to you today! <3