Stepping onto a large boulder, the view before me is straight out of a dream. Mist hangs heavy amongst towering evergreens like webs strung from the multiple branches of a tree.
Every shade of brown and green are represented in the alpine tussocks that grow along every inch of the mountainside except for the narrow trail that stretches out of view beyond another rocky outcrop.
White, red, even purple shrubs scatter amongst them, their berries stark against the water droplets hanging from their branches.
Beyond the flora, the Douglas Firs and the wild goats who call this mount their home, the view extends outward towards the valley where, below the mist, are bustling villages of sheep farmers, fisherman and vacationers looking for the kinds of thrills only Queenstown can offer. Sprawling hills, an immense lake and more mountains are further out still.
This is New Zealand, and this is what I hope Heaven will look like one day.
If I have done my due diligence as a writer, then I have painted an adequate picture of what I saw standing on a mountaintop overlooking the most beautiful country I’ve ever laid eyes on.
But if I am honest, I would have to say that it’s not being on top of a mountain overlooking God’s creation that gives me the most awe. It’s standing in the valley with my head tilted as far back as it will go, trying to glimpse the mountain top.
It’s from that viewpoint I see the mountain in a fresh light and I’m reminded of just how BIG and majestic my God is.
So it is in life. Every one of us has experienced mountaintop experiences where the entire world seems to go on forever and you feel like nothing could take away the joy of that moment.
But for every mountaintop, there’s a valley just below. A valley so deep you might not see the path up the mountain for the heavy fog that settles there.
I have had many valleys in my life, obscure gorges that seemed impossible to escape. Over time, I felt like I might as well build a cabin there because I doubted I would ever taste the thin air of the mountains again.
But, just when the ominous clouds seemed heaviest, a ray of sun would break through and in the clearing, a ragged peak would look down and take my breath away. Snowcapped crags and goats climbing nimbly along their well-trod path would be visible to me.
I’d glimpse shimmering ribbons making their way over a ledge and cascading down in sheets to a pool below. And then I’d see the path, the entrance that had long been hidden from me during my stay in the valley.
After the valley, the mountaintops are always sweeter, more beautiful and better than I remembered. But, during my satisfying time at the top, something I did not expect happened.
I’d miss the views one can only see from the valley. I’d yearn for the closeness the mountain provided my dwelling on the ground. I’d crave the rare glimpses of the full majestic beauty of the mountain. Things I experienced while in the valley.
And I learned that not all valleys are dark and treacherous. There is beauty to be had in the valley. There is comfort. Love.
Where once I had wished to leave the valley behind and live where my vision had no limitations, I now remember the valley as the place where God taught me Who He is and who I am in Him.
Where He proved to me that even in my darkest times, He is good. Where I learned to notice the surrounding valleys and who might dwell there, also needing to see the mountaintop for themselves.
But most importantly, it was there where I learned that God is not only the God of the mountain; He is also the God of the valley and that sometimes, the valley is where He’s closest.
*This post was first published in the Christian Womanhood Magazine