As I trudge along the damp dirt path, tendrils of smoke wisp out in front of me. I squint as I walk, trying to see through the dark shadows that surround me. On both sides of me, the high canyon walls cut off the light; above me, a thick canopy of leaves keeps the sky hidden from my sight.
I have been traveling through this valley for some time. I didn’t enter it by choice, and likely wouldn’t have chosen it; the path I follow brought me here.
There are others walking this same path. At times, we meet one another; occasionally, we will walk the path together, at least for a while. Other times, we will spot one another from a distance. Some of us help one another on this journey; some avoid all help and all contact with others, preferring solitude.
Yeshua, my guide, has assured me that I will not always be in this valley. He is always with me, although I cannot always see Him. Nor can I always hear Him. But as long as I keep my mind on Him, my eyes on Him when I can see Him, and my ears tuned to Him when He speaks, I am not afraid. Even in this, the darkest of valleys.
I live in the Shadowlands. All of us do, actually. Despite the name, all is not dark in this world, because Elyon created this world. And when He created it, He created it full of light and beauty and adventure and mystery. And he pronounced it good. He poured all of His love into this creation. Back then, it was known as Eden, not as the Shadowlands.
That came later, after the Cataclysm. After the Man and the Woman choose to listen to the dark whisperings of the serpent rather than the true words of Elyon. They reached for knowledge rather than intimacy, not understanding that relationship with Elyon would have opened the door to true knowledge. In that moment, with that choice, they broke what Elyon had created as good.
Since then, I am told, this good world has changed dramatically.
It is still filled with light and beauty and adventure and mystery.
But the light – the light does not shine as brightly as it did in the beginning. The colors are muted; the beauty has been marred. There is adventure and mystery, but there is great danger – the serpent and his cohorts roam the Shadowlands, seeking to destroy and devour the sons and daughters of Elyon. And sadly, they often succeed. Many choose to listen to the whisperings of the serpent. Many choose to blaze their own trail, not understanding that in reality, they are deceived and only follow the serpent’s trail.
After the Cataclysm, millennia later, Elyon sent Yeshua, His Firstborn, to rescue us. It’s a long story – perhaps I will tell more of it another time. Yeshua came to the Shadowlands and with His own blood, blazed a trail through the Shadowlands. He has told all of us who follow Him that He will lead us along this trail – to Elyon. To Home.
That’s where I’m heading. That’s where many of my friends and family are heading – Home to Elyon.
It’s a long journey. There are times it’s very difficult; times the path is hard to see. Times too, though, of great joy and bountiful blessing. And there are times like this – times when we walk through the darkest of valleys.
But valleys are not forever, and shadows are cast only because something tries to hide Elyon’s light from us. And nothing can hide Elyon’s light completely – not even the final valley that I’ve heard is at the end of this journey. That valley is called the Shadow of Death. I’m not sure where it is, but I think it is a long ways off from here. The thing is, I’m learning to trust Yeshua in this valley, as I have in other valleys that He has brought me through.
And if He can get me through this valley, I know He will get me through whatever other valley I might face.
He can do the same for you.
Remember – these Shadowlands are wonderful and terrible and wild and beautiful and mysterious. But they are only a shadow of what Elyon has for us – what we will one day see with our own eyes.