Imagine you’re walking through a dry place, the Valley of Baka. Everything ahead of you is barren. When suddenly, you catch a glimpse of something behind you.
The vision I hope for you to see comes from Psalm 84. Before I share what might be behind you, I invite you to picture yourself in a dry place. You not only feel thirsty because of the season you’re in but you’ve faced repeated blows that are beginning to feel personal, dehydrating.
You’ve been abandoned and hurt, and though you’re trying to steady yourself with the Lord’s help, you feel worn out by the journey. Additionally, you’ve got loved ones with you. You want to be an example for them, and you desire to feed them well even though you’re in a dry place.
Imagine who is following you. Is it your kids, co-workers, or friends? Whose lives are being impacted by yours?
Visualize yourself walking through the dry valley, the Valley of Baka. Are you ready to unpack a really powerful Scripture with me?
Psalm 84:5-6a (NIV) reads, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs.”
If your strength is in the Lord, you are blessed. If your heart is set on pilgrimage, you’re gritty. You’re not giving up because you’re parched. You’re pressing on. Walking with God, and putting your strength in the Lord does not always come easily. But it does bring blessings! Listen to this powerful blessing! “As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs.” (v. 6a)
Can you visualize yourself walking through the thirsty land? Everything you see ahead of you has withered, longing for rain. You turn around to check on those who are following you, and your eyes widen.
In the place where your foot last stepped, a fruit tree has burst from the earth. In the step before that, you see springs of water flowing across the land.
Because of your determination to follow the Lord through hard times, those you lead have a different view. They see hope in the darkness, water in a dry and weary land.
This imagery has been inspiring to my soul. Yet, part of my heart drops as I live in my skin through difficulty. I’ve not turned to another god, nor have I cursed the Lord in my suffering, but neither have I seen springs of water from each of my steps when I’ve faithfully trudged along the journey.
So I’ve taken this passage to the Lord in prayer, inviting Him to help me see. Though I grieve at how imperfectly I walk out this Scripture, I believe there’s still hope.
When I’ve yelled in my anger or my grief, the Lord has walked beside me and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my wrongdoing, giving me confidence to apologize to my family members. Perhaps this is more of a spring than I’ve previously thought.
As a counselor, I see a lot of destructive family relationships filled with drinking, detachment, and other negative coping behavior. But when we run to God rather than trusting in our own defense mechanisms, we choose pilgrimage. And the seed of a fruit tree is planted.
The life-giving fountains may not always flow as immediately as we wish, but I’m holding on to this verse, believing it truly is being fulfilled in our lives as people who follow hard after God.
What adversity have you faced? What valleys need to be transformed into springs? Invite God into the middle of your situation. He will bless you for putting your strength in Him, for having a heart that is set on pilgrimage (Ps. 84:5).
If your hurts have erected a wall between your heart and your head, causing you to question if you can trust God, invite Him to illuminate the wall and help you take it down. This process and the ability to see springs in the valley does not happen overnight. God transforms our heart day by day through the miraculous power of His Word.
If you’ve been a bit like Adam and Eve, hiding in your sin and shame (Gen. 3:8), hear God calling your name as He did to Adam and Eve, asking “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). Though you may not hear Him audibly, He is near (Psalm 34:18). If you make it a daily practice to seek God, keeping Him in His rightful place as the Lord of your life, He will be your strength and your song (Ps. 118:14).
Though the journey isn’t always easy, water is nearby, and His name is Jesus (Jn. 4:14, 7:38-39). If you’d like to build this type of life, my husband and I wrote a book, I Used to Be_____, that walks you through a process to navigate large or small losses using Biblical mental health tools that will help you find your path forward.
Ashley Elliott is an author and speaker who devised and published a theory to help individuals gain insight to their personal thinking patterns that prevent them from reaching success in relationships at work and home. She is also a licensed counselor and coach who specializes in grief and communication. Additionally, she consults with business leaders to help increase employee engagement and retention. Compiling her counseling skills with over a decade of higher education teaching and leadership experience provides an engaging, interactive experience where learning feels fun! Check out her book and lots of free resources at chuckandashley.com.