"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on
pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valleys of Baca, they make it a place
of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from
strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: God of the Valleys and Alleys
Have you ever been in a dark alley, all by yourself?
It doesn't matter whether you have walked through an alley a thousand times;
there is still an unsettling feeling about going through a dark alley alone.
We don't know what lurks in the darkness. We are nervous about the unknown.
We contemplate a plethora of tragedies that could possibly beset us as we
walk or drive through an alleys.
There are two words that describe the same situation for different folks.
City folks describe a passageway that leads between or behind two buildings
or rows of buildings as an "alley." They are usually narrow passage ways
often used by garbage trucks or delivery vehicles to collect refuse. They
are not usually well kept and are out of sight of the main thoroughfare.
City folks are familiar with alleys. They are usually dark, lonely and often
they are dangerous. Out of the sight of prying eyes, many tragedies occur in
alleys. Distant from help, alleys offer few ways to escape, no place to run.
Alleys make us claustrophobic. We feel cornered in alleys. That's why we
don't like dark alleys because we know what can happen in them.
Country folk don't see many alleys, but they have many valleys. In many ways
a valley can be similar to an alley. A valley is an area of land that lies
between two mountains or high regions. Those who travel through valleys are
vulnerable to enemies who may lurk unseen in the mountainside. In times of
peace and prosperity the valley is a beautiful place. However, in times of
peril, attack and storm, the valley is a dangerous place. No one embraces
the idea of going through the valley, with all of its shadows, alone.
Sooner or later every life will face either a valley or an alley. Whether
it's the immediate tragedies of life posed by poverty, social decay or
despair that result in alley experiences, or the deeper, personal life
wrenching experiences that rob us of hope and inspiration in valley
experiences, sooner or later all of us will have either a valley or alley
experience, both are just as frustrating and dangerous. Either one is
difficult to face alone.
As Christians, we are reassured that our God is a God both of the valleys
and the alleys. We don't know what evil lurks in the alley or the valley,
but if we should travel through them holding to his hand, he will provide
for us, bring justice upon anyone who attacks us, and show us the way out.
The great satisfaction of every believer is that no matter how deep the
valley or dark the alley, there is always hope.
* No matter how difficult the terrain or treacherous the path, there
is always hope!
* No matter how frustrating the moment or aggravating the
circumstance, there is always hope!
* No matter how challenging the obstacle or intimidating the foe,
there is always hope!
That's why the songwriter declares .....
"My hope is built on Nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name!
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.
In His Love & Service,
Pastor Larry E. Campbell
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, San Bernardino, CA