Last December, I had the pleasure of singing in the choir at my university’s annual Christmas concert. Talented faculty sang selected solos from George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah.” On the outset of the solos, the choirs had the privilege to echo choruses straight from the prophet Isaiah. My personal favorite solo was when Dr. Hugo sang “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted.”
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11, NIV
The Holy Spirit prompted me to create my own version of “Ev’ry Valley…” based on my reflections from Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139. What came was a solidifying reminder that God is not only in sovereign control over every aspect of my life, but also over every aspect of nature. A new song (or in this case, a new take to an old song) is always exciting! “Every Valley” is no different for me. In the same breath, the words also deeply convict, especially considering the verse composed as “Every shadow…never can hide you.”
As I have given space for the words of this post to develop, my joy to sing a new song intermingles with a conviction that there are areas of my life in which I can try to cast shadows on Christ’s light. Where I could risk being preachy about believers being a light in the world, now more fitting than ever, God helped me realize the words were flowing introspectively, preaching to myself (Matthew 7:5).
“Every Valley” by Gianna Elyse
(Based on “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted” by G.F. Handel) and selected scriptures:
Isaiah 40:4-5; Psalm 139:7-8, 11-12; Matthew 28:19-20; John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:12
Every valley, every valley…shall be exalted
And every rock and mountain made low
For the mouth of the Lord made it so
Should I make my bed in the depths
Should I climb the highest height
I have not escaped you yet
Oh, the mouth of the Lord makes it so
You are with me wherever I go
Every shadow, every shadow never can hide you.
Before the Son of God the earth will fold
Every rock and mountain made low
Oh, the mouth of the Lord made it so
Provision, Protection, & Perseverance
God provides in every valley. No matter what you experience, you can learn to be content and overcome in every situation (Philippians 4:12-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-7; 1 John 4:4; Luke 10:19; John 1:5,16:33).
God is with you and wants to grow you.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:26-31
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:7-11
It is important to live pursuing holiness, sharing your testimonies. Colossians 1:9-14 implores believers to grow in wisdom and fruits of the spirit continually. May God…
…fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:9-14
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:37-39
As Christ illuminates my path, I am learning of His grace, that I am not condemned even as the accuser tries to condemn me (Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Revelation 12:10), God’s provision for me (Psalm 50:10; Mathew 6:32-33; Philippians 4:19;), and His divine purpose for my life (Mathew 5:13-16). Overall, I also see an overarching theme of what it means to exude the light of Christ: humility.
It is so beautiful to me that the brightest star of all was also the most humble one. That starlight is Jesus, who laid His life down in humility, as a human baby, then died on a cross, taking my criminal penalty (Philippians 2:1-8). Furthermore, He was victorious over death and resurrected to life and is exalted (Romans 8:34; Philippians 2:9-11). The same power with which Christ rose from the dead, now lives in me (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:18-23).
Following Christ requires humility, just as He came humbly to the world (Philippians 3:7-11).
We can live humbled lives and be empowered by God at the same time.
Two ladies come to mind: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Hannah, the mother of prophet Samuel. They sang personally about God’s control over the earth, simultaneously, how He pierces each person’s joints and marrow to judge hearts’ thoughts and intentions (Luke 1:46-55; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 4:12).
Just as these women placed faith in God, we do good to come to believe the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, as nothing good comes apart from Christ. When we work from our own might, we grow weary, but by faith in Jesus, with His Spirit we live victorious lives (Isaiah 40:30-31; John 15:5; James 1:17; Zechariah 4:6).
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!Philippians 2:5-8
Good News to Carry On!
Please be encouraged that one day Christ is coming back, a new heaven and new earth will be established, and each person will be judged for his deeds on earth, namely, whether or not they placed faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:6).
To me, some of the most impactful visuals in the Bible are mentions of God likening the earth as a garment (Isaiah 51:6; Psalm 102:25-28, 104:1-2, 5-6; Proverbs 30:4; Job 38:8-9, 12; Hebrews 1:10-12). The ease and control with which God destroys the old earth and will usher in the new is just the same as if I were to fold my old bed sheets and replace them with new, clean sheets (Hebrews 1:10-12). God is ironing things out, if you will. Regardless of your eschatological viewpoint on chronology of the events to unfold, what is certain is that Jesus is coming back to judge the people of the earth.
Not all is doomed, however… One must respond to the truth of God’s Word, to be a doer, not simply a hearer of it (James 1:22-25)…surrendering her life to Christ and confessing Him as Lord and Savior, since the only way to be righteous is through Jesus’ penal substitution for our sins, and she will be saved (Exodus 20:1-17; John 14:6; Romans 10:13). Every person has sinned according to God’s holy standard, and that sin requires punishment by death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). No amount of one’s good works or asking for forgiveness will save him, but only repentance from his sins and faith in the good work Jesus did on the cross for him accomplishes salvation.
When someone accepts the gift of salvation, it is then she can be empowered by the Holy Spirit living within her (Zechariah 4:6; John 14:15-17). God is building His kingdom with willing hearts, even those who are the least of the earth (Matthew 5:1-12, 25:40). Therefore, the gospel does not make sense to those wise in their own eyes, but God does choose the seemingly foolish things of this world to confuse human understanding (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 3:5-8; Isaiah 5:21; Romans 1:22; Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:27, 3:18-20).
God is close to the broken and contrite heart (Psalm 34:18, 51:17). Is your heart broken or suffering? I hope these words encourage you, and if you have not received Christ’s gift, I pray you do accept it this moment. God has a plan for you to prosper you and not to harm you, even to give you a hope and a future in a wicked and depraved world (Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 2:15).
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.Psalm 61:2, NIV
Hope in Jesus, and soon you will be resurrected; the old will pass away, the new will come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We hope in Jesus to make everything level. What’s more, nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, through every circumstance. In the meantime, God provides a way for contentment through the process of sanctification (Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5). Yes, life is difficult at times, and we groan, yet, all things will work together for our good. God will perfect that which he started in you (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:18-39).
Let’s seek first God’s kingdom, realizing what we experience day to day and what we are physically involved with will soon pass away (Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:12-13; Hebrews 13:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
One last thought, how can you apply the passages of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139 to your own life? God wants to comfort us in the shadowy valleys of our lives and level the haughty areas in our hearts (2 Samuel 22:28; Psalm 18:27; Proverbs 3:34; Hebrews 12:11-13). He will straighten out your path, even amidst all that troubles you (Proverbs 3:5-6). The resolution may not always be in your external circumstance, but God always promises His peace and comfort when you cast your cares on Him (John 16:33; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22; Philippians 4:4-9) . After all, remember that your trials are producing for you an eternal treasure, and these trials will soon enough pass away along with everything else that is imperfect and unclear (Matthew 6:19-21, 33; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Romans 8:18,37-39)
Consider some lyrics that I have not worked into the song yet (see Isaiah 40:21-22):
“Child, have you heard
Child, don’t you know
He is with you wherever you go.”
❤️️ Gianna Elyse
When I opened my computer to record “Every Valley,” I found an old recording time-stamped 8/28/2021 8:11pm! At first I did not know which song for which I was playing the chords or if I was improvising. Now, I recognize the chord patterns are for a song I wrote, titled, “Come Again.” While listening to the audio for “Come Again,” take a moment to pray and meditate on the Lord, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then, please comment in the discussion below whichever scripture, lyrics, words/phrases, or any ideas that come to mind for this audio. After I receive a few responses, I will record the original lyrics over this audio to share with you soon, and it will be interesting to reflect and compare with your comments. Perhaps a new song will come out of this too!
P.S. Do not hesitate to post anything, from serious to goofy. God has a sensible sense of humor, after all, and perhaps he is ministering in that way to you now. Maybe you wanna be more ambitious and post your own demo version… Hey, by all means! All things considered, please do not be crass, as the goal of anything we write should be to glorify God.