Each year, when I was a child, we were taken to an ‘open day’ at the Steelworks where my Dad worked, it was a really enjoyable family day out with rides and other entertainment. Consequently, for me, the words ‘Open Day’ became synonymous with such a fun event. However, on a hot summer Saturday in 1977 that changed when Dad took the whole family to an open day at the local sewage works! There were no rides, no children’s entertainers, no stalls, but there was one thing there in abundance – the smell! It was so bad my Mum refused to leave the car and remained there with the windows closed the whole time we were there – she must have come close to getting heat-stroke. However, it was free, and my Dad got to test the whole family’s gagging reflexes to boot!
So where is this leading? Well, in Biblical times there were no sewage treatment works and everything unpleasant used to get discharged (one way or another) on the east side of the cities, even the poor were buried there. To the east side of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives, there is the Kidron valley which contains the Kidron Brook. In it’s day this was an open sewer that took discharge from the temple, amongst other places. As you can imagine in the climate of the middle east the smell was pretty ripe!
There are several mentions made in the Bible of this valley, but two of the most poignant are firstly in 2 Samuel 15 where King David flees through the Kidron Valley and into the wilderness from his son’s Absalom’s rebellion against him. Then in John 18, Jesus (King David’s descendant) crosses over the Kidron on his way to Gethsemane, before his arrest, trial and crucifixion.
King David fled into an uncertain future, but he still clung to the fact that God had made him king. He probably wondered if this was how it was to end; over-thrown, running like a thief into exile? Scripture and history tell us that was not the case, God still had His hand on David, he was Israel’s anointed king and nothing was going to stand in the way of God’s plans. Now, let us leap forward to see Jesus take that same journey across the Kidron to Gethsemane. He knew what was ahead of Him; He even prayed to God in His humanity that if there was another way to fulfil the plan of salvation could He be spared what lay ahead. However, Jesus knew the future didn’t end at Calvary! There was the resurrection to come!
Are you currently in a place where you are feeling that you are going through one of the most terrible experiences imaginable? Do you feel as though your life is just wading through something unspeakable, with seemingly no end in sight? I don’t know where you are at the moment friends, but I can tell you this, I am walking that experience at present. However, I take comfort in the fact that Jesus knows that experience. He will walk alongside you in it and if needs be carry you through it and out the other side. Cling to His promises, seek God’s face as to where He wants you to be, and just keep seeking Him. He will lead you through this to something that will amaze you in due time. Then you will be able to look back and say ‘God was with me in that.’