Friday, January 14, 2011


     "Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision!
The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem;  the earth and sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel."   (Joel 3:14-16,   NIV)

photo from Hubble telescope, "Universe"
    The prophet Joel received visions and messages from God to His people.  The messages were to warn the people of God's impending judgement and to urge them to repent and turn back to God.  The people had become complacent and had turned to idol worship.  They were self-centered and sinful. (Sound familiar?) Joel was warning them that this lifestyle would inevitably lead to their destruction. Although Joel's message is stern and forceful, he also points out that God is merciful and wants to bless those who know Him.

      Joel presents to us today the same message that he did to the people of Israel thousands of years ago:  turn back to God.  "Rend your heart and not your garment.  return to the Lord, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."   (Joel 2:13)

        Multitudes, multitudes...  Just who are the multitudes Joel is speaking of?  They are every living soul that ever walked the earth - for ALL will eventually come to judgement day. Billions of people will be in attendance, and there are no "free passes".  All will be separated into two categories - those who have repented and received God's forgiveness and those who reject God and face the severity of His final judgement.

     The Valley of Decision.  We walk in the Valley of Decision every day.  Some days we are more aware of life's decisions.  Some days are tougher.  More painful.  Maybe some decisions are made trying to decipher between shades of grey, while others are the more easily discernible black and white.  But, the Valley of Decision remains with us daily. And please believe this - today's decisions will make a difference tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.  Many have made wrong decisions and reaped the bitter harvest years later.

      I have made many wrong decisions, and I have paid the consequences.  But, let me tell you about a RIGHT decision I made.  And, how the experience has helped me over the years... Many years ago when I was in nursing school, my circumstances were far from ideal.  I was suddenly the single parent of my two-year-old daughter.  We moved across the country, I managed to immediately get accepted into nursing school, I got scholarships and grants, and obtained a full time job and a part-time one as well.  (Add in homework, housework, playing with a toddler, etc., and you will quickly realize that I didn't get much sleep in those days..... ahhhh... yesterday's Valley of Decision...)

 Nursing school wasn't easy; not easy at all.  The "normal" people who didn't have two jobs and a toddler  to care for thought it was tough!  Now, add in one more little detail:  I had to keep a "B" average to keep my scholarship.  Well. along comes this one semester... I had a History class, English 202, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and of course, Nursing class. As is often the case, each college instructor gave enormous amounts of reading and other assignments, as if their class was the only class the student was taking...

  My history professor had an interesting proposition for any "motivated" student;  she offered a "grade up" for each book report (from her list of history books) turned in before the final exam.  Thus, by doing five book reports, one could get an "A" in spite of failing every test and quiz!  This seemed - and still seems - more than a little "fishy" to me. I reasoned that I could get a "C" in the class with very little effort and concentrate my energy on my science and nursing classes. And, maybe there would be time to do a book report, if need be... Oh, the Valley of Decisions...
     That semester was a nightmare!   Every class required a lot of homework.  A lot of reading.....  I managed to do one book report for the History class and hoped for the best.  Then came the Valley of Decision:  A fellow student offered to sell me a book report.  Buying that book report would guarantee me the "B" I needed... maybe even an "A"!  What a temptation! But I knew right from wrong.  I said, "No."  I took my chances.  That ill-gotten "A" would have been a hollow victory,  something to be ashamed of.  I knew that many of the other students bought book reports for that class.  Some students got those "A's" with  bogus book reports. But I settled for the grade I truly earned, and I am glad.

     When you cheat, even when "everybody else is doing it", you are really cheating yourself.  You're cheating yourself of honor.  Of self-respect.  Of integrity.   Do I always make the right decisions?  Of course not!  But, when you walk with the LORD at your side He will help you make the right ones.
     The Valley of Decision.  Let Him walk it with you.


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