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Valley of the Shadow

Bubbly, joyous, effervescent, happy, jazzed, energized, vivacious--are these words that describe the Christian experience? Or do words like serious, melancholy, contemplative, deliberate, pious, and thoughtful better capture the Christian's spirit. Which song best characterizes the daily walk of the disciple, "I've got joy, joy, joy, down in my heart," or "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty?"

Elijah probably experienced a rush of faith when he faced the prophets of Baal. The Children of Israel tried to serve both God and Baal. The prophet of the Lord challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest to show the people who they should serve. The prophets of Baal could not call down fire from heaven, but Elijah could.

Elijah's prayer did not rhyme. He did not use beautiful metaphors. It did not sound like a litany, but God honored it! He stated his purpose: "Let it be known this day that thou art God," his motive: "and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word." Then, he gave his request: "Hear me O Lord, hear me . . . " (1 Kings 18:36-37) After this short, terse, humble prayer, God responded: "Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." (1 Kings 18:38)

You would think that Elijah would be flying high after this victory, but he wasn't. The next time we catch up to him he is in the pit of depression: "Then he went on alone into the desert, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." (1 Kings 19:4 NLT)

The Christian life is not mono-dimensional. Our faith does not dissolve our anguish, nor does it negate our personalities. It does, however, give us a context for our problems and strength for our challenges.

God never promised that we would bypass the "valley of the Shadow of death," but He did say he would walk with us. Have you felt the touch of his unseen hand recently?


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