“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me”
— Psalm 23:4
When I began this journey on the road to being debt free, I conveniently forgot a portion of all my previous journeys when the Lord has asked me to walk with Him through—the Valley of Humiliation. I have been down this humble road before, many times. Some have been deeper and darker than others, but I know now that I never really know how deep it’s going to be, not even when I have turned the corner to see that God, once again, is calling me down into a dark hole.
“The LORD … raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).
It is human to fear this dreaded valley, and often we do, so that as a result of our fear we find we add to our fear guilt since everyone knows that as a “Christian” we shouldn’t fear, right? Yet, God knows our frailties and that is why He doesn’t send us down through the valley alone, instead, He promises to send Someone very special to come with us.
“Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a Son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). Having our Heavenly Husband walking with us is the main reason He leads us down. He wants us to know that what we naturally fear is something we really don’t need to fear.
Time and again we prove that we are simply children, His child bride, and not so grown up after all. So, God, like many fathers, will walk us through the dark places in life to show us that everything is really alright. And depending on the sort of relationship we have with our Father will determine how we are able to sleep at night while traveling into these dark places. Am I right?
During my first real walk through that well known “valley” that so many of us dread, I was really just getting to know the Lord on a deeply intimate level as my Husband. He was my Savior, sure, but this is when He became my Lord. It happened during the period of my life when I was young and had just been abandoned by my husband, alone with four small children, and no future in sight. That’s when He chose me to take a little walk with Him. Unfortunately, for almost two years I didn’t sleep well at all. Many of you are there right now, aren’t you?
Darling, if that is you, please don’t beat yourself up about it. God is only saying that to rid yourself of that fear and those sleepless nights, you simply need to get closer to Him, to the point that you feel safe. So, simply snuggle up, listen to Him, and soon you will feel that safety that is yours because He loves you, because you are His, which is nothing you have to earn. If you are not sure just how to go about “cuddling up” with Him, tell your Husband or your Father that too, and He will accomplish it without you having to figure it out. I know.
Now back to that valley. It was many years after my first valley experience, when all of a sudden, I turned a corner and found myself facing the downward slope again. This valley of humiliation was very similar to the one I was all too familiar with, but this time there was much more at stake. However, during those years, I had gained a real intimacy that radically changed the way I walked that walk with my Husband—we were now Lovers. If you want to learn more, the best way is to read Finding the Abundant Life (by losing it, based on Matthew 16:25), and then Living the Abundant Life. Both are available for free on one of RMI’s websites: www.RestoreMinistries.net.
It was only two years later that my ministry and life took a surprising turn when, out of nowhere, my website suddenly got shut down—alas, another “new” valley was waiting for me to discover. When I realized what was ahead, I can’t say I began to fear, but I will say that, unfortunately, I did begin to dread. And that dread is a lot like fretting, and fretting, Psalm 37 says, leads to all kinds of things that I didn’t want to get myself caught in.
About the same time, I noticed something else even more alarming: the real “in love” feeling with my Husband that I had experienced during and after my divorce that lasted for nearly two glorious years, was really not there! Oh, of course, I loved my Husband dearly and could feel He loved me too. But that “in love” feeling that I thought would last for all eternity had begun to fade as it does with most married couples: the awe and wonder began to be less intense. I knew it was all due to the stress and busyness of my day-to-day living, and no doubt due to the trials that now plagued my life.
I cannot tell you how desperately I wanted to be “in love” again; I wanted that feeling and intimacy back. So, as I always say you should do, I simply asked my Husband, just like the first time. “Darling, how can I get closer to You? How can I feel that ‘in love’ emotion we women love to drench ourselves in?” Funny thing is, I guess God’s solution happened just two days later when I took a turn along my journey that headed down through this new valley.
Who of us doesn’t realize that our intimacy (how close we feel to our Husband) is due to the valleys in our lives? And, the deeper the valley, the deeper the intimacy we get to experience. Our heads know it, but our hearts often faint within us when we are asked to take a similar journey since there is naturally a fear of the unknown.
Of course, God is faithful—you and I both know that. So, He chose to start my journey by sending me someone else who needed encouragement. Why? Because there is no better way to get encouraged than to encourage someone else. Did you know that? And that’s why so many people are running around without courage—they fail to embrace this principle and many other principles written in the Bible as solutions to their problems.
The main principle, once you really know your Bible, is this: “Everything in the kingdom of God is the opposite of the world.” We might know it, but we don’t live it. So, when we need money, we hoard it instead of giving it away. When we are hurt, we hurt back rather than bless our enemies. And when we need encouragement, we get all wrapped up in ourselves not realizing that our encouragement comes in the form of encouraging someone else. So, when someone needs something and is sent by God to “come’a knocking at our door,” we pretend we are not at home! You understand I am saying this figuratively, but it could even be applied literally.
The same principle that “in the kingdom of God everything is the opposite of the world” goes for when we are given a promise that we know is from God, that He is calling us to do something really awesome for Him. And this thing He is calling us to do will “eventually” promote us, and possibly put us in the limelight—but first, God faithfully calls us to descend into greatness. For far too many Believers, this descent, without their understanding of this foundational principle, convinces them that this can’t be from God; therefore, they refuse to “lower themselves,” or “stoop so low” missing the point that the journey begins with descent.
Even though we are Christians, which means followers of Christ who should appear peculiar, and in particular, humble, we use all the same excuses and lingo (such as self-esteem or self-respect, etc.) as every other human on the planet would use to refuse the descent, all because we haven’t learned the fundamental principle that “in the kingdom of God everything is the opposite of the world.” Are you getting it? Good, now we let’s move on.
Dear bride, since you are reading this book, I have to assume that you are more like me: You know this principle, but it’s so easy to forget when it comes around again; isn’t it? Just remember, your Husband loves you along with all of your frailties, every single one of them. He is only trying to rid you of anything and everything that stands in the way of the sort of happiness only a bride has: the joy that is unspeakable, so full you could burst. And the way to rid yourself of the fear that is surely trying to take hold of you is to draw ever closer to your Husband, and to also use what He said He’d send us—testimonies to overcome what your mind and what other people want to tell you.
“And they overcame him [the wicked one] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11).
Most of the time God uses my own testimonies to encourage me. He reminds me of things He has already done for me, and that’s just what He did this time. This time He told me that the freedom that I experienced after going through my divorce was what it would be like when I was done going through this financial valley. Before being divorced again, there were many things I couldn’t do like I can do now. It is an entire life full of freedoms—just one was to be free to fly around the world several times! When I was married, my husband (at the time), wouldn’t even allow me to go to New York for my fiftieth birthday even though he asked what I really wanted to do.
Yet, less than a year later, I was walking freely on the streets of New York, and walking all over Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America! Reminding me of my own testimony made it easy to see what was up ahead, but I also needed to remember that the freedom I have now took me descending into the valley of humiliation when my restored marriage fell apart. When my husband once again fell into the pit of adultery, I was asked for another divorce that I had to go through, but that's what brought me undue freedom and blessings into my life, as well as new testimonies to encourage others and to ultimately encourage me.
Can I break away to say something that will help you remember how important it is for you to share each of your testimonies: big and small? I think of our own personal testimonies in the same way that people today are able to give blood or bone marrow to themselves so it’s ready for when they need it later. Many parents save their babies' cord blood in blood banks for future needs. There are so many of my own testimonies, some large and others small, which have kept me going through the worst or hardest of times! And each one of my testimonies was shared and was designed to encourage others—so give life by allowing and sharing testimonies—because they will someday return to overflow and encourage you! “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).
It was when my neighbor came to tell me that she was losing her home that my testimonies came in handy. In our neighborhood, it has become an epidemic, as it has all over our nation. The thought has crossed my mind, I must admit, especially since my ministry had basically shut down and I currently have no real income. I mean, why not me? And yet, each time I spoke to my Husband about it, He’d ask me, “Michele, do you really think you are going to lose your house?”
Why is it that the Lord loves to answer a question with a question?
My answer has always sort of been, “Well, yes and no, or should I say no and yes? No, I don’t believe that I will” I say that in faith. And yet, I didn’t think that the freedom to be His bride, which I enjoy now, would have come from going through divorce again; therefore, maybe it does mean that I will have to go through losing my house, and everything in it, to find financial freedom. Honestly, it takes someone a lot wiser than I am to know what is up ahead, and just how deep the valley that I am heading down really is.
Yet, no matter how deep it goes, one thing is certain—on the other side it will be everything my Husband promised to me, and even more importantly, I get to walk through it close to my Beloved Husband, which makes the journey ever so sweet. And when I have doubts, all I need to look at is the very recent testimony of another bride, the missionary I spoke about in previous chapters, who submitted her praise report. Her valley was so deep, so dark, so full of mocking, jeering, rejection, and every other horrible thing, some unimaginable, but it was down in this valley that led her to the mountaintop—singing the sweetest of praises.
When this bride was just a young teen, she went to see a woman who had escaped (barely alive) from an eastern country in Africa. After hearing her incredible and moving testimony she went up to meet her, when in the middle of our talking her companion from Africa got down on her knees in front of her, laid her hands on her feet and said, “These feet will walk on African soil bringing hope.” From that day, she said she felt called to go to Africa. But the road to get there was meant to prepare her for what she would face when she arrived.
This summer, she said, seemed so close to fulfilling her dreams, everything was in place, all doors were opened, then suddenly one door, where she was to reside while in Africa, slammed shut. Week after week she waited and wondered if she would ever go. It was during this waiting period that she learned firsthand some of what our Savior experienced in betrayal. In addition, she had two near-death experiences, which made many of her closest friends tell her that what she was trying to do was too dangerous, that the enemy was after her, and to reconsider.
Yet, GOD, YET GOD, in His lovingkindness, His very nature, had a love story that had been written just for her from the beginning of time, that you will read in the next chapter, “My Johnathan.”
“Thank you my precious Lord, Savior, and my Beloved for blessing me with my own valley and the courage to trust You as I do. I love You more every moment of every day!”