Girlfriends in God - Apr. 22, 2008


April 22, 2008

A Plan for the Valley

Mary Southerland



Today’s Truth

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (NIV)


Friend to Friend

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, deserted island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came. Exhausted, he eventually built a small hut out of driftwood as a shelter and a place to store his few remaining possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. Everything was lost. Stunned with grief and anger, he cried, “God, how you could do this to me!” Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him! “How did you know I was here?” the weary man asked. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

God is always at work in our lives, even during the most stress-filled moments. When we entrust everything we are and everything we have to God, when we depend upon his truth instead of our own understanding and choose to walk in obedience, God promises to “make our paths straight(Proverbs 3:6 NLT). No matter how deep the valley, we can count on God for direction. In Proverbs 3:6, “make straight” means “to do right, to make smooth or to be evenly hammered”. I love that truth! I can almost see my Father going before me, the hammer of truth in his hand, flattening every fear-filled obstacle, hammering down every mountain of doubt before me so that, when he has made a way, I can cross over. He straightens out the crooked paths, improving my behavior and causing me to do the “right” things.

Valleys are best faced with a total abandonment to the Shepherd of the valley. How many times have we danced with joy on the mountain top then moaned and complained in the valley? God is Lord of the mountain and the valley. I suspect that the most powerful life is lived in the valley – not on the mountain top. Every valley is surrounded by mountains and every valley has a shepherd, a shepherd who will walk with us through the valley, a shepherd who will go before us, leading us out of the valley. When the psalmist wrote these words, he wrote my life message, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:1-2 NIV)


As a young pastor’s wife, I desperately needed help. Grace Chavis, a gifted author and speaker, stepped into my life and was a friend and mentor to me for many years. I will never forget the day I heard she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I picked up the phone to call this precious lady, expecting to offer words of comfort and faith. The person who answered the phone could not possibly be Grace! She sounded ecstatic! But it was Grace! I sputtered, “Grace, I must have misunderstood a message I received today saying you had been diagnosed with terminal cancer!” A laugh of pure joy rang in my ears as she said, “Oh, no! That’s right! Now, I am here in my living room, dancing before Jesus and singing, “I’ll be with you soon!” I have to tell you that her response blew me away and to this day still challenges my faith. Talk about trust!


No matter where you are today, your Father is there. No matter how deep or long the valley, he is with you, waiting for you to surrender all. Give him your valley, knowing that he will surely lead you out. God has ordained that valley as an altar of sacrifice, an opportunity for him to work through your broken heart and life. Keep your glance on the valley and your gaze on the Shepherd. Begin praising him for your deliverance. It will surely come.


Let’s Pray

Father God, my Shepherd. I feel like a lost sheep, a broken lamb. I am desperate for You. I confess that I don’t always understand how You work, and tend to doubt You in those times. But I want to trust You as a sheep trusts its shepherd. By faith, I come to You, placing my life in Your hands in total surrender. Thank You for loving me just as I am.

In Jesus’ name,



Now It’s Your Turn

What valley are you facing today?

What is your biggest fear or concern about this valley?

In what way(s) are you like a sheep in this valley?

What do you believe God can and will do to help you navigate this valley?


Read, meditate on and memorize Psalm 40:1-3:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” (NIV)


More from the Girls

Been there? At the bottom of a valley? Surrounded by mountains? As Jodi, my daughter-in-law, would say, “No worries!” It is a common expression of hers and always reminds me that as long as God is God…I really don’t have any worries. I know that is easy to say and hard to do. Let’s challenge each other to live as women who wholly trust God. Amen!


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Originally published Tuesday, 22 April 2008.