While roaming the Appalachia foothills, I’m sure the Cherokees and Shawnees must have searched the sky for a star or the sun’s position to track their path. I like to think I did the same, but instead of being a Native American child of the 1800s, I was just a little hillbilly gal firmly rooted in the early 90’s… and so I checked for smoke. The exhaust of the bellowing smokestacks from the nearby refinery was my marker. I needed only to see the grey puffs to know which way to tread for home. This trick served me well as I wandered the hillsides around our home. My little legs likely never took me all that far, though I felt miles and miles from all that was familiar.
Then the inevitable happened, and one day my luck ran out. The wind had changed, and the smoke blew a different direction. I searched for my landmark, but what I sought had moved, changed, or disappeared. I was lost.
I have always heard that one should climb to a tall point when lost in the woods to survey the situation. The problem with that is when you’re actually in a valley, high points are few and far between.
I’ve had moments in adulthood where I’ve been lost in the proverbial valley with seemingly no visible marker. One particular low point, presumably my deepest, was when I was a new nurse graduate. I was excited and anxious to enter the working field and be among educated, ambitious professionals. Surely such an environment and my newly attained independence would provide me with the Peaks of Pleasantries. I was wrong (again).
Motivated by selfish ambitions, I didn’t realize how far I was trudging into the dark, empty hollers. My efforts to harvest true happiness were futile; I was sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Self-centeredness is unbalanced (Philippians 2:3). It’s a limited perspective that fluctuates with impulses and emotions (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In the recent wise words of the man who married my husband and me 6 years ago, “Each of us has been lured into serving our own interests before others, tempted to place ourselves as the most important thing in our world, but we are not! We have placed ourselves on the throne of our own hearts, a throne that exists for someone else.” Brother Dan Smith is currently the pastor at a church in Eastern Kentucky, leading his community in love and truth and by example.
We are to look to that unmovable throne, not to ourselves or any other earthly guide-point to know how far we’ve strayed from home.
My dad drove a truck loaded down with my brother, the family dog, and a crew of neighborhood kids. All passengers searching and finally finding me: wind-burned and pushing my hot pink bike aimlessly just before sunset.
That’s something else we can all find comfort in— that while we need only look to God for direction, our Father is always out there looking for us to come home (Luke 19:10).
*Picture is of my parents’ barn and a barn quilt that Wade made before we understood how placing a barn quilt on the “weathered” side of a barn isn’t exactly a good idea. Lesson learned… along with one other: barn quilts and barns are beautiful–like people–“weathered” or brand new. #wordslikehoney
- For they sow the wind And they reap the whirlwind… Hosea 8:7 NASB
- Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 NASB
- For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 HCSB
- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NASB
2 Replies to “Lost in the Valley”
Beautiful Neena! I still remember the night of your wedding. I was so blessed by your pastor’s message. Thank you for this blessing.
I love that you were there 🙂 Thank you!