Not too long ago, I began to incorporate "The Valley of Vision," a beautiful, gospel-centered, theologically-rich collection of puritan prayers, into my quiet time with God. I am so thankful that these prayers were recorded and preserved for future generations.
The first prayer in the collection (for which the book is named) speaks of the valley of vision. A dark, lowly place where the light of Christ is best seen and exalted. Here are the words of that prayer...
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast 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.
My heart aches when I read this prayer.
Partly because I can relate to the brokenhearted puritan who has been brought low by God. The one who is living in the depths, hemmed in by mountains of sin and unbelief. I am deep in the well, clawing to find my way out.
But mostly my heart aches because of the painfully beautiful paradox he describes.
The way up is the way down.
To be low is to be high.
The broken heart is the healed heart.
The contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit.
The repenting soul is the victorious soul.
To have nothing is to possess all.
To bear the cross is wear the crown.
To give is to receive.
The valley is the place of vision.
As I camp out in the depths of the valley, I am finding that the stars shine brightest in the pit of despair. Never before have I known such intimacy with God. In the valley, I have come to know the unspeakable grace, comfort, and peace of my LORD. As I am made nothing, he is made much.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
Lord, 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.