So, who else can go through times of losing sight of God’s plan for them?
During one of my lectures last week, there was a great visual illustration discussed that really nails this topic on the head. The story goes that a missionary went to speak in a remote location in India. When he was picked up by his host, he noticed that they were heading straight towards the biggest, most majestic mountain he’d ever laid eyes on. He was surprised to see how close they were actually getting to the mountain as they drove along, and was quite pleased when they arrived at his hosts home and found that the bedroom that was allocated to him had a balcony that looked directly onto the mountain.
That afternoon, the missionary thoroughly enjoyed watching the sunset splash brilliant yellows, reds & oranges over the mountain as it went down behind him. A full moon then came up and lit up the towering beauty for the evening. He spent quite a bit of time out on his balcony (is anyone else thinking that maybe this was kinda rude to his host?? Just sayin) that afternoon & evening and certainly by the morning, he’d made up his mind… He wanted to trek to the base of the mountain that day. He went to his host and put the suggestion forward, saying the surely he could make it to the base by lunchtime and then head back to return by dark. His host smiled and said to him “It is a very rugged 4 day trek to the base of that mountain.” His host went on to explain that the mountain’s sheer size made it appear far closer than it actually was, but also, out of sight between the host’s home and the base of the mountain, were several smaller mountains, and of course valleys between.
This was used as the analogy to depict what our spiritual life can often be like. When things are going fantastically, and we’re up on a peak… we have a clear view of God’s ultimate plan for us… the majestic mountain… but when we head toward it, we must travel down into the valleys, through hard times etc. It’s at those times that we may not be able to see God’s ultimate plan for our lives. We inadvertently come back up out of our particular valley, having learnt much, and once again get a birds eye view of our ‘mountain’.
Many would say “I just wish God would chopper me into the base of the mountain, that way I can skip over the heartache.” It would seem much simpler wouldn’t it, but I firmly believe that if we were able to do that, we’d arrive and find that we were ill-equipped for what God has for us there.
It’s in those valleys, and in particular, making out way out of them, that we learn our greatest lessons, strengthening & equipping us for what’s ahead. God’s not silly…. he knows we’re limited by out ‘humanness’. He only equips us for the next mountain peak and no further. This was highlighted in today’s message at church, entitled Worry vs Thankfulness. Matthew 6:34 tells us therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. I believe that we can allow worry to get in the way of growth. We know that we will have struggle ahead of us, seeing as we know that’s how we learn (and of course the obvious point that we live in a very broken world), but if we spend our time worrying about what the NEXT valley, or even the next part of the valley, will be like, we risk missing our lesson… and having to do it all over again.
This illustration reminded me so much of a previous one that was in Old Testament Survey. Talking about Cycles (lots of focus on the book of Judges… the Israelites experience a cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance & restoration) and how God can be bringing us through a growth stage, but if we fight against it, not learning what it is He has for us in that particular season, we can end up going back to the beginning of the ‘lesson’ so to speak. Just like the Israelites, who managed to turn an 11 day journey into a 40yr journey. We may not have too many ‘valleys’ between us and God’s ultimate for us, but we can be stubborn and not learn what it is He has for us, therefore ‘cycling’ around the same valley over and over again.
I know for a fact that I did this within my marriage for many many years. Oh my goodness, there were so many things I was doing wrong… trying to achieve things in in ‘my timeline’ and using ‘my methods’. I thought I needed to change DH, or convince him to change. I wasn’t drawing on God’s strength within me and I certainly wasn’t doing anything about the enemies schemes. I would give The Lord a cursory thank you if I believed I’d achieved some victory, or beat myself up harshly when a particular valley seemed excessively deep. It wasn’t until I fully learnt & accepted who I AM in Christ, as well as learning to incorporate spiritual warfare in my daily prayer routine, that I felt equipped to ride through those valleys, as hard as they were, learning much along the way.
Believe me, I certainly don’t think I have it down-pat… NO WAY ….. but I have ridden through enough valleys now to know that I WILL get to the next peak if I keep in fellowship with The Holy Spirit and His leading. When I reach that particular peak, I’ll be refreshed and rejuvenated by taking in the view of ‘my mountain’. Each time it gets that little bit closer. I’ve also learnt the hard way that it’s no fun to realise you’re back on the peak you started on because you didn’t learn what you needed for that season. It’s not a fun feeling knowing you need to ride through that valley again, so that’s just more encouragement to stay the course & learn through struggle.
I can rarely get though a blog without highlighting the benefit of doing life with fellow Lionesses (& Lions for you guys reading). We are ALL walking this road with The Lord. Our peaks & valleys can be really similar, or vastly different, but we lean on God’s word that tells that us in Proverbs 27:17 As Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Our sisters (& brothers) in Christ can often be the ones that can highlight to us that maybe we’re not learning all we can be in this particular valley. It can get tough ‘down in the trenches’ and sometimes we get weak, drop out shields a little… and it’s then that we need our Godly friends . We need to make ourselves accountable to trusted Godly friends in order to travel our journey WELL !!
Earlier this year, I followed a particular leading of The Holy Spirt in relation to a dear friendship. I really really didn’t want to & it broke my heart to do what He asked of me. The common sense side of me knew that there would be heartache ahead, for me and the person involved. I didn’t understand His leading… it didn’t look like a cut & dry lesson… I wanted to challenge Him on it, as I had before on this same issue. But, you know what… last time, when I challenged Him.. when I thought I knew better, it didn’t end well. It might have seemed like it went well temporarily, but in the end, I was back on the original peak… and that’s not fun !! So, right now I’m riding through a journey .. and it’s been tough…. it’s been tortuous at times…. but I’ve been through a few valleys now and I have absolute confidence that this lesson will be well worth it. I think I’m seeing some light up on the peak, and I CAN’T WAIT to see what God has for me next.
And no, I also can’t get through a blog without tying in a fitness element… and do you know why… these same cycles get us in our fitness journey too. I know, because I’ve been on that particular peak before. Four years ago, I decided to get fit, and did a very good job of it… reached my goals etc etc. But I didn’t learn the lessons GOD had for me… I just learnt the ‘logical’ lessons. Eat well, exercise, hydrate… you know, all the stuff a good PT will tell you. I didn’t, however, learn the lesson that my body is a temple and that I’m worshipping God when I look after my body and make good decisions in regard to it. I got the ‘physical satisfaction’ last time I travelled the course… I lost weight, I was happy with how I looked etc etc, but God wasn’t a part of my journey in earnest.. and I thoroughly believe I’m now walking this journey again because I didn’t learn HIS lessons last time.
This is why I’m determined to walk it WELL this time, learning from HIM !! I have a great PT & I love her, but my ultimate PT is Jesus !! I’ve said it before… He’s with me through every workout, He’s with me through every thought process around food etc etc.
So peeps, if I can tell you anything… stay the course with HIM !!! Even when it seems unbearable and you think you won’t make it. It’s a heck of a lot easier to ride through it now, even when it feels like you can’t survive it, than to go back to the beginning and start the lesson over.
Much love to you all.