Peaks and Valleys

It may be a cliché, but Life is filled with Peaks and Valleys. Everything we experience is either a peak or a valley or something leading to it. I have learned though my experiences that peace is not the absence of trouble, pain, heartache, persecution, or any of the worldly challenges. I have lived my life in the Peaks and Valleys, or somewhere on the mountainside, always headed one direction or another. When I hear “Peaks and Valleys,” I think of an emotional state of mind, and then I’m reminded of my physical circumstances–sometimes just like a “Duncan” yoyo, up and down, up and down . . . .

What I have learned and will never be swayed from is that the “peace” that Jesus provides is completely different from the peace sought by non-believers. HIS peace is constant, consistent, and neither controls nor feeds on our emotions. It is omnipresent, there for us to recognize and accept. So I have come to believe that the only way to peace is through Jesus Christ, and that comes by hearing His word, over and over. The more we hear His words, the more peace we have in our lives. Vicki and I have found that the more time we spend in, with, and around, God’s word, the more peace we have, regardless of our circumstances.

When you experience the Big Crisis, it’s the lowest valley you could imagine. How blessed I was that my “Big Crisis” was one of circumstance and not my health, but it could not have been worse for me. And it has haunted me like Marley’s ghost for decades. It never goes away. People who meet me today sometimes say, “He is so calm, collected, fast on his feet, and his feet are well grounded.” Things like that. I acknowledge and thank God for blessing me with vision, the ability to think, to plan, to understand, and to see the end results of transactions. Those traits are necessary in business. But it can be a blessing as well as a curse, because I thought I was so smart that I could do it on my own, without others–and without GOD.

My former philosophy was like what William Ernest Henley wrote in the famous Invictus:

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

We all have weaknesses, and I have many. I know that they have strengthened me, as Jesus said. Vicki and I have stopped struggling with our fears, doubts, and weaknesses and we put our concerns, fears, doubts, and weaknesses in God’s hands. We have been and are on a great journey every day of our lives, and every time we are disappointed, angered, fearful, persecuted, hurt, and mistreated we run to the Lord. We grab HIS book, we fall on our knees, and we call HIS Name.

Though it’s difficult, we try to not make things about us, because we know that if we do, it means that we have stopped looking at the finished works of Jesus Christ. Remember when Peter saw Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee towards him and he jumped out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus, but the moment Peter thought of himself (fear), he began to sink. As long as he had his eyes on Jesus, his thoughts were on Jesus. Peter was above the natural law, which says man cannot walk on water, so once he thought of himself, he sank, returning to this world and its fears. It has been proven to me over and over again and again that when I am looking at Jesus I succeed above the natural laws, but when I am looking at what I did, then I can only succeed by natural or man’s laws.

We are taught that the Top of the Mountain is a good place. Our goals are to the win the race, to chase the golden ring all the way to the top of the mountain. As a young kid we would play “King of the Hill.” If you could knock whoever was standing on the top of the dirt pile off, then you were KING of the Hill, until someone knocked you off. That seems to be the definition of success in the world. But always present are many who try to knock you off of that hill–no matter how small a mound it may be.

One of my best friends has recently gone to be with the Lord, and is in Heaven today. Sadly, the older we get, the more that happens. But I am so grateful to still be still here, still loving life with my precious Vicki, and still succeeding with God’s help. My friend said for the first 60 years of his life that he was going to Heaven on the “Wife Plan.” His wonderful wife was very faithful in her Christian beliefs, and she prayed for him to become an active Believer. Others prayed for him, too. And one day the Holy Spirit touched his heart, and he walked the aisle and was saved. Amen. Because the “wife plan” would not have gotten him to Heaven.

In Corinthians we are told, “use your experience to help others.” I have spent nearly 40 years telling this story, and I wonder how many blessings God wanted me to have that I missed. Since I had such a devastating event in my life, I tended to be judgmental about others who had challenges, but Scripture says we are to use our experiences to help others. If we had no experiences to help one another, we would be judgmental. Years ago a friend of mine was very critical about my credit card debt. He boasted how his credit was perfect and a lot better than mine. A short time later he lost his job, and he could not pay his bills. We sat down to discuss how I fixed my problems and how I could help him fix his. I was not judgmental, I had a great deal of empathy for him and his plight. I knew the pain and embarrassment of overwhelming debt. That is a good example of how GOD gives us ways and expects us to feed his sheep.

The peaks and valleys of life are strong mental challenges. Jesus knew we would face persecution as believers, but it still hurts when others turn against us, or gossip behind our backs, or criticize us. When something horrible in your past resurfaces, you hit one of those valleys, fast. Sometimes it’s a nose dive. You cannot help but have a little pity party and think, “Just when I thought it was all behind me!” But God gave us The Comforter to keep us safe from harm, and we have but to seek Him on every occasion. In the valleys we can find peace. David said in the 23rd Psalm, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for YOU are with me.”

The valley Jesus Christ walked through saved us and gives us life–abundantly.

Because of all the valleys of my life, and because of the peaks they propelled me to reach, I know that everything works for good, for I love the LORD and am called according to His will. I pray that these words are food to hungry souls and may bring peace to the troubles in your life.

–Hunter Carr