Today in Sunday School I received an unexpected gift from a gentleman that I am little more than an acquaintance with. He handed me a copy of The Valley of Vision, a little devotional book full of Puritan prayers. I have wanted to read this treasure for many years but it never has pushed to the top of my most wanted list of theology books.
The gentleman is a professor at the university I work at and I have only spoken with him a handful of times. I looked at him quizzically, wondering how on earth he could’ve known I was an avid reader of Puritan literature. He explained that he had remembered a time when I had come by his office and how I had commented on The Valley of Vision sitting on his desk. I am a new attendee in the class he is in and he recalled our dialogue and decided to give me an extra copy he had at home. This encounter happened YEARS ago and I marvel at how he had remembered such a small thing for so long. I thanked him profusely but he probably has no idea just how thrilled I am to finally have this book. The cherry on top is the fact it is the swanky leather-bound edition. God is kind in all things great and small.
I have spent most of the day meditating on the introductory prayer that inspires the name of the volume. I wanted to present it here for your edification (and perhaps to help put this book on your ‘To Read’ list).
The Valley of Vision
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty
thy glory in my valley.
As 2015 began I had my hopes up for an enlightening 12 month journey back to a high level of spiritual growth. I had reason to believe so. I’ve recognized a pattern in my 20-plus years as a born-again Christian. In 1995 I came face-to-face with my own sinfulness, beholding the face of God in Jesus Christ. God poured His grace on me in January of that year and my life has never been the same. Then, a decade later in 2005, I had a powerful personal reformation of my foundational theological beliefs and again, my life has never been quite the same.
So, here comes 2015, full of the promise of even greater blessings from above. I couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for me on the 20th anniversary of our reconciled relationship. Little did I know the heavens would open up and rain fire down on my family. We’ve been afflicted with trials and tribulation the likes of which I’ve never witnessed. Many sorrows have pierced us over the past 6 months and I can openly and honestly say to you that as I write this, we are broken and bleeding. The wounds we’ve received are deep, wide and will leave permanent scars on our souls. Continue reading
“Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 3:18
“Grow in grace”—not in one grace only, but in all grace. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fulness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed. Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low, and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward—having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.” He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know Him is “life eternal,” and to advance in the knowledge of Him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of Him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus—as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of His love. If you do not desire to know Him better, then you love Him not, for love always cries, “Nearer, nearer.” Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of Him in his divine nature, in His human relationship, in His finished work, in His death, in His resurrection, in His present glorious intercession, and in His future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of His wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of His love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. (Pro 18:1)
I am often called a hermit by my family and peers. I shy away from social situations as much as possible. I am most comfortable in quiet settings, often desiring to be alone with my hobbies or my own thoughts.
Three years ago I moved out of the office suite I shared with my co-workers and into a workroom/office isolated from the department – and I just love it. A frequent comment I get from visitors is, “Man this place is quiet! How can you stand it?” My pat answer is simply “Four kids.” They nod in sympathetic understanding and leave me be.
I like solitude! Continue reading