(This story is an allegory to the trials we as believers face in this life. My prayer for us as believers is that we will keep our eyes locked on the King, even when we are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. As the hurt and attacks keep coming, may we press on after Him, for He is worth our all. To God alone be the glory!)
“Why?” My question escapes from my lips into the desert wasteland all around me. Dusk has fallen and the desert has traded its scorching heat for the momentary cool of the night.
My question seems to hang in the air, taunting me with no answer in sight.
I take another breath, sizing up the endless stretch of sand before me. Unable to go on another step, I collapse to my knees and then to my face, my exhausted limbs seeming to adhere to the sand.
These are the moments one hopes to avoid. This is the wasteland everyone abhors. This is the trek none care to take. This, my friends, is the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
A dry stick cracks ten paces to my right. It is as if my enemy wants me to know he is there. I force myself to my knees, wearily drawing my sword. “Can I not have a moment of rest?” I cry out inwardly.
Sure enough, a dark warrior is lurking in the shadows. I recognize him instantly, for he has been my constant companion since I’ve entered this valley.
Discourago is his name and a formidable foe is he. Lurking nearby, he is always ready to strike when I am weak. Not far behind him is Depressiono, for these two always go hand in hand.
I look to my left, ugh, yes, he is still there as well. Tempto, always waiting for his friends Discourago & Depressiono to strike first. Alas, Tempto knows me all too well. When I am engaged with his two fellow warriors, his attacks are almost impossible to resist.
I hear the scampering of feet, but only make out the rough shape of a figure, before he melts back into the darkness. I don’t need to see his face though, I know Fearo lurks on the edge of my enemies just beyond my sight.
Footsteps behind cause me to jerk my head around. As usual, Lonelinesso is on my heels. I swipe my sword at him, seeking to keep him at bay.
A noise reaches my ears as I keep a wary eye on Lonelinesso. It sounds like the rustling of leaves, but I know all too well nothing could be farther from the truth. The rustling slowly takes on the sound of voices, their words faint, but all too audible. Alas, I am unable to plug my ears with my sword in one hand and the other supporting me in my kneeling position, my legs still so weak from the long day’s walk.
The Winds of Lieso continues to grow louder as my enemies lurk, waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
I hear movement in front of me and turn a wary eye in that direction, still keeping Lonelinesso in sight.
Three more figures boldly walk towards me, oh how I hate them! Prideo leads them, strutting like the peacock he is, followed by Bitternesso & Angero. These three are always trying to wear me down with their smooth words, constantly pushing for me to take matters into my own hands.
An arm suddenly wraps around my left arm and I whip around to face this supposed new threat. Ah, it is just Hurto moving from by my side to grasping my sword arm.
He has been my constant companion of late and while I don’t like him one bit, he has no power to destroy me. The enemies lurking about me, that is another story.
Discourago & Depressiono lunge at me, seizing my moment of distraction as a time to attack.
I am unprepared and taken totally by surprise. My other enemies quickly tighten their ring on me, waiting to strike the moment their opportunity arises.
I don’t have the strength or desire to resist them. After months in the Valley, one is too worn to care. Besides, these enemies won’t kill me, they simply suck the life out of me, taking the little will I have left to fight.
They’ll beat me up, leave a few of their pack to keep me down and be back again tomorrow.
They are the Gang of the Dark One and a vile group of enemies are they.
I brace myself, not caring, not intending to fight, I’ve been in the Valley too long to care anymore.
Yet, over the howl of the Wind of Lieso, a strong voice resonates through the darkness of the night.
“Stop! He is under My protection!”
My foes cringe at the sound of this voice and retreat a few paces back.
A tall figure boldly walks up next to me and glares at the pack of the Dark One. The pack cowers, but doesn’t leave.
The tall figure stoops down and gently places a hand on my shoulder. “Nathaniel, what are you doing?” “Giving up,” I admit with defeat thick in my voice.
The King of kings smiles gently. “Why?” “It is hopeless and over.” I retort with frustration.
The King gently lifts my chin and gazes into my eyes. “Over?” He gently asks. “Yes, I’ve fought so many battles these past months my King, I don’t have the strength to go on.” I whimper.
“Good.” The King says with a nod. “Good?” I question. “How can any of this be good?” “I don’t want you to do this in your own strength, but rather Mine.” The King gently prods.
“But my King,” I protest, “Hurto has not left my side these past four months. I’ve had enough!” “Ah Nathaniel,” The King gently responds, “I’ve allowed Hurto to be with you. I use Hurto to refine My warriors. I use him to teach My warriors their need to be dependent upon Me and Me alone.”
“So You, the King, see Hurto as good?” My frustration is extremely evident.
The King gently squeezes my shoulder, “No, I don’t see Hurto as good in and of himself, I use him for good.” The King smiles, “And one day Nathaniel, you will never see Hurto again, when I call you home.”
I ponder the King’s words, as He continues. “You have two choices Nathaniel. Hurto can drive you closer to Me…or to them.” He motions to my ever lurking enemies.
I think in silence, weighing my response to my King. “How long my Lord? How long?” I ask, a single tear sliding my cheek. “I want to leave this wretched Valley.”
The King reaches out with His majestic hand and gently wipes the single tear away. “I know My faithful servant, I know. I have a purpose for all of this. I know you don’t understand now, but some day in My perfect timing, you will understand. Will you trust Me even now in this Valley?”
“I desire to trust You, but…” The tears begin to roll down my checks in earnest, “…it is so hard my King. The pain I am facing in these trials…is greater than I ever imagined.”
The King opens His arms and I fall into the strong arms of my King, as weeping consumes me.
The King waits patiently, holding me as I spill my sorrows and woes to the One who knows all and sees all. Slowly, but surely, my tears begin to subside.
The King softly speaks to me, “Nathaniel, keep your eyes on Me. Keep your eyes upon Me.”
I nod, trying to recompose myself. The King gently releases me and I turn to look at my foes.
“Ahem.” The King clears His throat. “Eyes upon ME, Nathaniel.” “But, they’ll attack…” I begin to protest. The King holds up His hand. “Eyes upon Me. They will not be able to harm you while your eyes are turned to Me. They may rage, but they will not succeed in bringing you down.”
The King slowly stands, helping me to do the same. He takes two steps back, then pauses to lock eyes with me once more.
“Nathaniel, I WILL see you through.” He smiles. “I have not been taken by surprise with this valley. It was always My plan for you to go straight through it. Keep your eyes upon Me. I am working, even in this.”
I nod, I don’t understand why He has chosen this Valley, but I trust my King, even unto death.
He gently smiles once more. “I love you unconditionally Nathaniel, never forget that My adopted son.”
The words flood my tired and weary soul like a calm, soothing river. Ah, what joy there is in being loved by the King!
The King turns around and begins walking straight ahead, right through the midst of the valley.
I fill my lungs with the cool night air and take a halting, limping step after my King.
Yes, Hurto hasn’t left me, that’s for certain. Yet, I must follow the King, follow my King.
I take another step and another. Each one hurts, sending pain through my entire frame. I hear my enemies on all sides, how sorely do my eyes want to turn and see if they are about to strike.
Yet, I remember the words of my King, “Eyes upon Me. They will not be able to harm you while your eyes are turned to Me.”
Step after trembling step, I follow my King, as He leads onward through the heart of the Valley.
No, I don’t know what He is doing in this, but one thing I do know, He is leading me Home, to the Heavenly City.
Even in this, He is working.
So I take yet one trembling step after another. I live for Him and Him alone. Yes, the hurt is great, the pain is strong, in my plans this Valley seems to be all wrong. Yet my King is strong. He is the Light in the darkest of nights. Living for Him is worth it, even when He chooses to take you through the Valley of the Shadow. Valleys don’t last forever, but my King, His goodness & His love do.
Glory be to Him! He is the God of the mountains and the valleys!
Our enemies shall not triumph over us who are His adopted children, for our King walks with us through the fire!
To God alone be the glory!
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ “ - Hebrews 13:5b