Ernest Robinson - Valleys

This morning when Deon prayed, he mentioned mountains and he mentioned valleys.  This afternoon I thought to speak a little about some of the valleys in the Bible.  I wonder if you recognize the name of the valley of Achor?  We read in Hosea 3:15, “And I will give her her vineyards from thence and the valley of Achor for a door of hope.”  We're glad when we're feeling hopeless and a door of hope is opened to us.  Do you remember what happened there?  It was when Achan hid that Babylonian garment and gold and so on in his tent.  The temptation was too great.  They were told not to touch the accursed thing but the temptation was too great and he thought no one would know, so he hid it in his tent.  Well nobody else knew, but of course God knew.  What he didn't realize was that NOBODY would know it but EVERYBODY would be affected by the influence of what he had done. 


More than a year ago, I was in an area that I had not been in before having meetings.  In that area, there was a brother.  His wife is a very fine, faithful woman and the man also professes.  I have heard other workers and saints say it and I have felt it myself.  There is just something about this man that you couldn't put your finger on.  He'd come to the meetings and he'd have a part, and I might say I had never seen anybody who could put on such a holy look in the meeting, BUT there was something wrong.  There's no warmth in the fellowship and it is not open.  You don't feel free to even have a spiritual conversation with the man.  There are some that you can enjoy having a spiritual conversation with, but there are some like this man with whom you just can't enjoy a conversation.  Somehow it just doesn't flow and this man was like that.  Well, we went into his home and there I saw something that answered the question for me.  “Oh, I see!”  Maybe not many knew.  Well, it's quite obvious that he doesn't see any harm in it at all.  The amazing thing is that he sees no harm in it but everyone else can feel the effect of it in his spirit.  There may be somebody here.  Let me tell you something - if you are not in full fellowship, you cannot pretend. People may be very kind to you and very warm towards you, but they all know.  They all know.  However, we are glad for this door of hope.  It could even be that you know very well what it is but you don't see any harm in it.  Well this door of hope is very simple.  There is no other way but you are just going to have to get rid of the accursed thing so that you can be free.  I appreciated what a brother said one time and I think of it often.  He said, “We would be greatly helped by a vision of what we're missing by not being faithful.”  That thing that you can't seem to let go is not giving you that much joy anyway.  Just let the accursed thing go. 


Do you recognize the name of the valley of Elah?  That's where David fought with Goliath.  We all have that valley.  That was a very, very important battle that day, an extremely important battle.  Every one of us is going to have to fight that battle.  Every one of us has a Goliath to face--this human nature.  I just noted a few things it mentions about Goliath.  It says in the first place he was far too big to manage.  He was big--he was tremendous, powerful and the armor that he had, a normal person couldn't even carry it.  David had enough wisdom to know that there is no way that he can come against this man with normal weapons and armor.  That won't work and there's only ONE way and that's the help of God.  That's the only way that we're going to fight this Goliath.  To try and think that we are going to do it with will power and anything else like that, we're fooling ourselves hopelessly!  There's only one way we are going to do it and that is with the help of God, to live in such a way that God can deliver us and be with us.  It also says of Goliath that he was a warrior from his youth--that's what Saul said to David.  He told him that he could never fight against him because he had been a warrior from his youth.  I am amazed myself at how young I was when this old human nature was already growing so big.  It is like that; it gives us trouble right from our youth.  Goliath was blaspheming God and His people and that's what made David's blood boil.  He wasn't going to stand for that.  If this human nature of ours is not controlled and under the control of God's Spirit, there is no way we can do anything because it is going to be a disgrace to God's Truth and His Kingdom. That is quite a serious thing.  We've seen that often.  It's a terrible thing to be a disgrace to God's Kingdom.  He WILL, if we don't have him under control.  


What I thought I'd just mention a little is what David aimed at.  He saw that the only little spot where this giant was vulnerable was his forehead.  I really feel that is the thing that I have to aim at.  I realize that if I want to work against this human nature, then the first thing I have got to think about is my thoughts.  That's where the problems mostly come from.  These thoughts of ours have a far greater influence on our very soul, our very being, than what we often realize.  I wonder if you've ever thought of it--what is the thing that you do most in your life?  What do you do more than anything else in all your life?  I think we can safely say it is to think.  Thinking - from the time you wake up in the morning till you fall asleep at night--there's not a moment that you're not thinking something.  Maybe we get more influence from our thoughts than what we would ever realize.  In the Proverbs it says, “That as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  Do you see what that is saying?  If we can change our thought pattern, we are going to change ourselves completely.  We're going to change our very character by changing our thought pattern.  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!”  You have probably heard many times, but could you bear to have it repeated?  "Sow a thought and you'll reap a desire; sow a desire and you'll reap an action; sow an action and you'll reap a habit; sow a habit and you'll reap a character; sow a character and you'll reap a destiny."  It all began with a thought and it ends with a destiny--an eternal destiny.  It's worth aiming at the forehead--that's what David aimed at and that's what we'll have to aim at if we are going to win--if we want to win. 


We sing in the hymn sometimes, “Help us think the thoughts that keep our hearts aflame”--very nice if we can.  I remember Howard Mooney telling us the best advice he ever had and at the time he never thought it would become the best advice he ever had.  Somebody told him one time, “Howard, you just try this.  At night, before you go to sleep, before you put out your light, you read your Bible and you just try to find a verse that you could enjoy thinking about, that you would like to think about.  You just try and find one and then until you fall asleep, you just think about that verse and if you wake up during the night again, then think about that verse again.”  Do you know what he said?  He said, “I never could have guessed it then, but that little bit of advice has brought unbelievable riches into my spiritual life.”  That's one thing we can do to help us think the thoughts that keep our hearts aflame!  You know what happens sometimes?  It's so natural and so much easier to think the thoughts that keep our human natures aflame.  That's a dangerous thing.  I might just mention this.  I think we all understand this kind of language.  If our human nature is dynamite, then our thoughts are the matches! 


There's another valley that's mentioned in the book of Joel.  I think we know that verse quite well.  In Joel 3 it says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.”  Did you notice, talking about the place where we are making decisions--did you notice that it mentions a valley?  Multitudes, there are a lot of graves in that valley!  Sad, sad graves!  I can think right now of some graves in that valley and whenever I think of them, I don't like to look at the name on that gravestone.  It just makes you feel terrible!  People that should never have been there--sad, sad graves and it says there are multitudes there--and it is true, in that valley of decision, the worst place in the world to try and make a decision.  There are many there, sadly.  Uncle Alec Pearce once spoke about two raindrops.  Maybe you've heard about that?  Two raindrops that fell there south of Capetown on Cape Point--there's a lighthouse on that very point.  It has a pitched roof and these raindrops fell together, but the one fell on this side of the ridge and one on that side of the ridge.  The one raindrop ran down the one side into the gutter and the other into the gutter on the other side.  They went a little further and the result was that the one ran into the Atlantic and the other into the Indian Ocean.  After some time they were thousands of miles apart and here they had fallen together.  


My second year in the work, I was with Uncle Len Hartshorne doing some house-to-house visiting in the city of Boksburg.  We came across a lot of unhappy people, unhappy that we knocked at their doors.  We have experiences like that.  Some of them threaten to put their dogs on you and some do it, too!  Well this house I knocked on the door and a man came out in the middle of the day and he was in his pajamas.  I said, “It seems like you're not well?”  He said, “Yes, I'm not well but come inside.”  I went in and sat down.  It was quite a thing to be invited inside.  I'll tell you briefly what he told me.  “This is not an ordinary sickness--I'm an alcohol addict and I'm in a bad way.  I have to tell you now.  Because of that I have lost my job and do you see this nice house?  I have actually lost this house, too.  It's going.  That's not the worst.  My wife despises me and my children despise me.  My life is just a wreck.”  Well, then he wanted to know just a bit about these meetings, and he was amazed when I started to tell him.  “Oh,” he said, “Have you ever heard of Alec Pearce?”  Do you know those 40 years before that he heard the Gospel in the Transkei from Uncle Alec Pearce and his companion, in the same mission where Uncle Albert Webb was?  He said he knew then that he should have made his choice but he chose the other way.  Do you see those two raindrops?  There was one man who had a meeting in his home, a wonderful elder, and the other man, a terrible wreck without any hope.  We tried to tell him there was still hope but he wouldn't come to meeting.  There are terribly sad graves in that valley of decision.  It was Bert Todhunter that told us, and it is very sobering.  He said, “There are some young people that spoil all the future of their lives making wrong choices.  Then there are some older people that make choices that spoil all the past of their lives.”  When we make a choice, there is just one thing to remember.  We may not be in a place to give you much advice, but we have seen a few things in a few countries.  Could we ask you just one thing, specially speaking to the young people--don't look at the road, look at where it's leading.  That might sound like we don't need to tell you that, but yes we do because most people look at the road and they don't have much regard for where it's going and where it's ending up.  We can be traveling in a Rolls Royce and have the most beautiful music coming from the speakers and riding on the smoothest road with flowers and lovely trees by the side, but if you're on the way to the funeral of the person you love most in the world, you're not going to be enjoying that at all.  Then again if you're on an rusty bicycle and it's windy on a bumpy road and it's dusty and it's hot and uphill, but if you're on the way to meet somebody after many years, that you love the most in the world, there is a song in your heart and that old bicycle is all right.  It's not the road but it is what's waiting at the end, that's what matters and there are so few people that seem to have the common sense to think that way when it comes to spiritual things and the really important things.  “Though crags and tangles cross it, praise God we will go on.”  Don't worry about the road; it doesn't matter if it has thorns.  We say in that hymn, “Where He has marked the pathway, all hail the briar and thorn.” 


The Korean Bible says that if He has marked the way, we will tread on the thorns.  The thorns don't matter--it is what's waiting at the end. So what we'd like to say is when you have to make a choice, don't look at the road but look at the end of it and THEN choose.  May we also say this--the problem is passion!  Not only young people but older people also.  Our passions can sometimes be very strong and they can lead us to make very wrong choices. We would just like to say this--please remember human passions are very, very fickle.  Our passions pass away but don't forget we're going to sit with the results of the deeds done in those passions.  Some of the most miserable people in this world today are people having to sit, some of them all their lives, with the result of deeds done in passions that they no longer feel.  It's a miserable thing to be very careful in this valley of decision.  We need to think and think and think again, and pray.  It's wonderful to be like Abraham.  Don't worry if it seems like the other one seems to be getting away with the best of it.  Let God choose for you--it's IMPOSSIBLE to lose.  Impossible!  But if you're going to choose for yourself, following your own passions, the very best you can hope for is mercy.  We had better not be too presumptuous even about that. 


We have that hymn; “I would be true for there are those that trust me.”  Do you know that it was Jack Price that wrote that hymn?  When he wrote it, it was when his sister was going to make a very bad choice.  She was madly in love with a man and though she was professing at the time, he was not, and the whole family was absolutely upset because they knew it was going to be a disaster.  They couldn't talk to her.  They lose their heads, their hearts and everything, it seems.  One day Jack was so desperate and he got hold of her and he really gave her a talking to.  It was at night and she went to her room.  The next morning when she came to breakfast, her eyes were red and swollen.  She'd been crying the whole night.  However she said, “I won't see that man again.”  He was so glad that he was able to wrest her back from digging her grave in that valley of decision.  Later she met a very fine man and she is happy today.  All the children are professing.  What a difference!  It would have been a disaster.  It was then that Jack wrote that hymn, “I would be true.”  As I said, she spent the whole night crying. 


In Korea, not so much any more, but when we first went there, the military training bordered on cruelty.  Big strong men would be reduced to tears, and do you know what the officers would tell them?  “We're making you shed your tears on the training ground to save you from shedding your blood on the battleground.”  So maybe some of these choices are going to cost a few tears, maybe you will cry all night, but it is better to shed a few tears now.  You'll get over it.  Yes, you'll get over it.  Rather that than put your soul in terrible danger and dig your grave in the valley of decision.  A sister worker in America got a letter from her younger sister.  Her name was Edith.  It was a very similar thing.  She wrote and said she'd met a man too and that she was going to marry him and nothing was going to change her mind, but she knew she was going to have to leave the Way.  So she just wrote to her sister Emily and she said, “I'm sorry to have to tell you, but I don't see my way clear of continuing in this Way.”  Well, of course that night Emily could not sleep, as she was TERRIBLY upset.  In the middle of the night she got some inspiration and got up and wrote the words of that hymn we have in our book.  “Lord Jesus teach me how to choose.”  She sent it to her sister.  It was never meant to be in our hymnbook as it was written for her sister.  She sent it to Edith and she said, "I have only got one request.  Before you finally decide, won't you please sing these words that I've written and sing it to the tune of the old song that you and I used to sing together, 'I'll take you home again Kathleen.'”  That's its tune, you know. Well, her sister sang it and she felt she couldn't go through with it.  She changed her mind and it was the same story.  Happily married afterwards.  She's still in the Truth and her whole family is too.  So we are thankful for those who have helped us not to dig our graves in this terrible valley of decision.  Maybe some of the more serious decisions some people make are when young people choose their mate for life.  We were hearing about husbands and wives in these meetings already.  Please just remember one thing.  The choice for your mate in life is not only going to affect your salvation but it is definitely going to affect the way that your children are brought up.  There have been some who have been in that position also having made wrong choices in that respect and have had the horror of not being able to do anything about it and seeing their children brought up and going the way of the world.  Trying to pull the other way but it's a very, very hard thing.  I have no children, but I think I can imagine what a painful thing that must be.  So just remember that it is not only going to affect your salvation, but it is DEFINITELY going to affect the way your children are brought up.  In the Truth or not, it's going to affect the atmosphere in your home.  It's going to affect many, many things.  It's better to be careful--VERY, VERY careful.  That can also be a sad, sad grave in the valley of decision.  I've known some that have lost their own salvation because of that and are miserable today.  It didn't bring anything near the happiness that they expected. 


Just one more thought about the valley of tears.  We read that in Psalm 84, “Those passing through the valley of Baca and make it a well.” If you look in the margin of your Bible, it probably says the valley of weeping, the valley of tears.  I'll just mention this briefly.  While we were sitting here we heard about Joseph.  He went through a long dark valley of tears.  Wouldn't it have been a terrible tragedy if he had dug his grave in that valley?  However, he didn't; he made it a well, a well from which God's people are still drawing.  The same with Job--just imagine the terrible dark valley he went through but he didn't make it a valley of tears.  What a wonderful man he was!  God has given and God has taken away--doesn't matter what.  He lost everything.  “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  We had a young man profess in Korea a number of years ago. He was a taxi driver.  Then the law (it's changed now fortunately, but then it was that if you'd hurt somebody with your car there was no question, no matter if you had no guilt at all), if you hurt somebody while driving your car then you went to jail.  He was driving his taxi and a woman didn't even look and she came out from behind a car to cross the road quickly and there was no way he could avoid her.  Well, she was hurt and he was in jail for a long time.  Anyway, he hadn't been professing very long and he decided it was a good chance to get to know what's in the Bible.  He didn't know what the Bible was before that.  Well, he really studied his Bible while he was in prison.  Now he is in the work and he is still drawing from that well that he had made in that valley.  It could have been a valley of tears but he made it a well instead.  You've heard of Sam Jones, the brother worker that wrote so many of our hymns which we will be singing at this convention, and have already sung--hymns that are a help to all of God's people.  Sam Jones had a heart problem that the doctors could not help, and he spent many a sleepless night.  It was in those nights that he could not sleep that he wrote many of the hymns that we have in our book today.  There's another man--instead of feeling sorry for himself in the valley of tears he made it a well and it is a well that God's people are still drinking from and will probably keep drinking from until the time that our Lord returns. 


It has been said, and it is very true, that sometimes we can see further through a tear than what you see through a telescope.  The Bible tells us that, too.  The sadness of the heart is good for us.  It's good medicine sometimes because when we are feeling sad, we start thinking deeper thoughts than we normally would be thinking-- sometimes we see further through a tear than we would be able to see through a telescope.  Look a little higher at the things that are more important and a lot more serious.  Some of us may have been in some of these valleys but especially let's be careful of choices so we wouldn't make our grave in the valley of decision and add our name to those multitudes in the valley of decision.