Walk through the valley of life faithfully, stresses Chapel speaker

Pastor Noe Garcia of North Phoenix Church stresses at Chapel that GCU students walk through the valley faithfully.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

Pastor Tim Griffin carefully reminded Grand Canyon University students that midterms were “sneaking up on us.” But he quickly shifted gears on Monday, telling a Chapel audience that there were more pressing matters.

Specifically, it was understanding the meaning of Psalm 23, which includes the passages that “the Lord is my shepherd” and that God is worthy of our trust.

That was conveyed on a personal and passionate level by Pastor Noe Garcia of North Phoenix Baptist Church.

“I wish someone would have said, ‘Life will get dark, life will be a challenge, life will be hard, but here’s how you walk through the valleys of life,’" Garcia said. “I wish somebody would have said, ‘There will be moments where you find yourself in sin. There will be moments when you find yourself doubting God. There will be moments when you find yourself weary and tired but understand it’s only a season.’

Pastor Noe Garcia of North Phoenix Church references a moment at his son’s baseball game during Chapel on Oct. 16, 2023.

“… I wish somebody would have told me I was going to be imperfect and continue to chase the standard of holiness but understand that I would fall on my way as I was chasing.”

Garcia stressed Psalm 23:4, which states that you walk through the valley. It is not your final destination. It is part of the journey, and it is not your final destination.

Garcia disclosed he walked through the valleys of mental illness, depression, anxiety and PTSD.

“There are these valley moments, but how do you walk through the valley faithfully?” Garcia asked. “And this is why it’s important, because how you walk through the valley will determine what you experience on the mountaintop.”

Garcia, based on his 20-plus years of walking with Jesus, conveyed three ways of walking through the valley faithfully.

  • Do not make a decision in the valley that you will regret on the mountaintop.
  • God grows us in the valley.
  • The valley is not the absence of God.
The Worship team’s Kaleb Zetterberg sings in praise during Chapel.

Garcia tells the story of how shepherds would walk through valleys and dark canyons, where thieves were ready to steal sheep. Shepherds were left to defend their flock despite, spiritually, being unable to see or hear God.

The enemy tells you this is your final destination, but Scripture in Verse 4 tells says you walk through it, Garcia said.

“We have a God who says, ‘Hey, you’ve gone astray,’" Garcia said. “‘Come back. It’s not good out there. You’re not going to like the consequences. And sometimes we end up saying I’m going to because I’m hungry for sin and I’m going to partake in the sin.

“The results of eating sin are shame and guilt. Guess who is waiting when you turn from your sin? The shepherd, who leads through the valley. It is not your destination.”

The consequences of sin are forgiven but not forgotten, Garcia concludes.

Although Garcia admitted, “I made a lot of mistakes in college in the valley, a lot of moments of mistakes that I have to carry for the rest of my life,” he speaks passionately about walking through those valleys with the trust in God.

Pastor Noe Garcia of North Phoenix Church speaks during Chapel on Oct. 16, 2023.

In allowing God to grow us in the valley, God ‘breaks us in the valley,'” Garcia said. “It is hard and challenging when you’re being broken down by God because there’s a dark night of the soul that happens. You start telling yourself He is not here, that He has no plan, you start telling yourself you’re too far gone, you’ve messed up. Start telling yourself all of these lies and begin to believe these lies.

“The entire time God says, ‘No, I’m breaking you, so you stop depending on your morality, stop depending on your relationships and grades. I’m breaking you so that you can start to depend on Me.”

Garcia compared one’s growth in the valley to a baker watching the ingredients blend.

“You cannot see the finished product,” Garcia said. “So do not judge your life or God through the ingredients that your currently see because God sees the finished product.”

In contrast from making rational decisions, the lies you believe will determine the life you live,” Garcia said.

“Remember, the valley is not the absence of God,” Garcia said. “When you and I sin, it opens a door for the enemy. A seed of lies is dropped. A seed of lies whisper stuff in your ear. It reminds you of your failure. It puts a distance between you and God.”

The Worship team’s Peyton Peterson sings in praise during Chapel on Oct. 16, 2023.

“… The enemy’s goal is to put distance between you and what’s true because truth is the believer’s lifeline.”

Garcia ended his message with a delicate touch, sharing the story of his 12-year-old son striking out to end a game in a travel ball tournament in Cooperstown, New York. Garcia held his distraught son, and the moment was captured via photograph by his wife.

“You embrace your child in the moment of your failures,” Garcia said. “Don’t run in the other direction.

“… Chapter 7 is not what you thought it was going to be, but He is not done writing your story. He is not done. Bring your failures to Him, and as you walk through this valley, let your shepherd lead you and comfort you.”

GCU News senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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Bible Verse

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

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