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Peace in the Valley

Isn’t it so shockingly human to have all your plans stripped from you in the blink of an eye? This global pandemic has altered if not stripped our plans in one way or another.    I think for most of us, it has forced us to really be with ourselves. For me, quarantine has been a time to reflect on the fragility of life, my reliance on Jesus and all of the things I take for granted. I grew up near a small city in Pennsylvania called Scranton. The people who live there refer to it as “the valley,” as it sits in a small pocket among the rolling Appalachian mountains. My disdain for the area increased throughout my younger years. Scranton is overcome with economic depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse. I lost several classmates from overdoses and suicides, and as a follower of Jesus, I felt like the area had been forsaken. I wished to never return for any significant period of time.

Before the shelter-in-place began in the Bay Area, my husband and I traveled to visit his family who also live in “the valley.” The pandemic caused us to rethink our travel plans, and we decided to stay a while against either of our initial plans or desires. It has been about a month now and this pandemic has brought a fresh light to my view of where I grew up. I undoubtably have felt close to Jesus in California. I especially have adored retreating to the mountains and experiencing His power in the vast granite views and staggering peaks of the Sierras. Embarrassingly enough, I think I’ve cried at almost every peak I’ve ever summited. However, that is putting God in a box that he does not belong nor exists in.

He is everywhere. That includes with us during our most productive and prosperous days, and our days that we are stuck inside worrying about the health and well-being of loved ones. He is with us in the heights of the Sierras, and He is with us in “the valley.” The Lord is good, always. In order to show humanity the light that a relationship with him has to offer, darkness is a necessary contrast. All of the terrible events happening in the world right now are that contrast. There is hopelessness, death, disease and depression as a result of COVID-19. But there is also love, family, collaboration, innovation, conversation, contemplation and perhaps most importantly stillness.

So, I challenge you to let Jesus find you in the valley you are in. Allow Him to show you the contrast he can offer you in this moment. In turn, you will grow and show others the beauty that can come from a relationship with Jesus in a way and time that could not happen if not for the situation we find ourselves in. Sit with yourself, release your plans and let Him exhale his peace over you.