Years ago, coming back from a conference on Deeper Life & Prayer, I heard from the first time the song “The God of the mountain is also the God of the valley”. I loved it! Often life is like a ‘roller-coaster’ with Ups and Downs. This morning I came across this meditation from a rather old book, but I felt I should share because it might encourage someone. ‘In Tune with Heaven’ by Vance Havner is not a new nook, this devotion was written August 3, 1930. Enjoy!
Those of us who have set out to live in the spirit have sometimes felt discouraged because our sense of the unseen rises and falls and does not maintain one regular, unbroken pitch. We are “sometimes up and sometimes down”; now we are upon the mountain of vision, then we drop into the valley of drabness; now we are high and lifted up, and then life grows insipid and dull.
None of us maintains the various Christian graces at one steady level. Peace and joy, courage and nobility, trust and purity—how we wish we could realize them with an even certainty and fullness all day and every day! But we do not; adverse moods, contrary circumstances, and diverting thought crash in upon us and our consciousness of the eternal is fluctuating and irregular.
There is, however, one Christian characteristic we all may know and hold steadily at all times. The Bible calls it “patient continuance.” It means following the Master in season and out, when you feel like and when you don’t, obeying the heavenly vision in sunshine and shadow, weal and woe until the race be run.
We gauge ourselves too much by how we feel. Exalted and inspired we imagine we are going well; if we are depressed or sluggish we think we have fallen from grace. But we may be doing a bigger work for God when we carry on and are loyal while we feel hateful and mean than when we preach great sermons or sing loudly in the ecstasy of high emotion. He that endures to the end is saved, and God values more the plodding soul who stays with it patiently day in and out than the excitable brother who indulges in occasional outbursts of rapture.
Some of the graces are of the mind, some of the feelings. Patient continuance is the grace of the will, and a vital and enduring Christian experience centers there. Our sense of faith, of hope, of peace, of joy may rise and fall. But we can patiently continue. When the day is dull, when God seems unreal and heaven far away, we can keep traveling, remembering Billy Sunday’s injunction: “Don’t throw away your ticket when you reach a tunnel—you’ll come out on the other side!”
The true disciple does not always feel blissful and victorious. He is not always deeply God-conscious, but he no more doubts God when moods dim His presence than he disbelieves in the sun when a cloud hides it. Nor does he study a great deal about that side of it. To measure his real condition by how he feels would be depending upon himself instead of God. He patiently continues.
Dark days come and go. Money is lost, goods are taken, health fades, friends forsake or die. Defeat, trouble, gloom, sorrow, weave into life their somber threads of black and gray. But he who has set his face toward the eternal knows that all that is incidental, not fundamental. He knows the sturdy patience of the will is greater than fine thoughts and high feelings. Instead of seeking mental and emotional delights he builds a rugged loyalty to the Christ that will endure when thoughts and feelings grow stupid and dull.
Enjoy the blessings of mind and emotion but make patient continuance central in your experience and all else marginal. Then if the margin be radiant with lofty vision and rapture—well and good; and when it grows pale or dark, the heart of your life still will be intact and enduring.
August 3, 1930