Misplaced Dread

The mountains and the valleys of life…Do you ever wonder why they’re there?

I do. I wonder why my time on the mountainous terrain isn’t more extensive and why some of my “valley” seasons can’t be more easily cut short.

Yet the more time I have spent in the valley, the more I wonder why I dread it so — this station where joy rises with the morning and where real worship begins. It is here that I can most effectively take leave of myself and learn what it means to cling to Him while holding nothing back.

It is when I am aware that I am making my ascent — closing in on my next peak — that am most tempted to push and shove; to insist that God get “out of my way” so I see all that I’ve been missing while so far below. But it is in the valley that I become the most patient. I realize that I cannot push God around and I have no reason to expect to get my way. I learn what it really means to say that God is good. And I discover grace is not a luxury, but a daily support I cannot press on without.

The Only Way

So, you just met Him and you wonder what He’s all about: Who is this God who saves people like you and me? What is He interested in and why did He choose you?

God LOVES these questions! He wants us to know Him, and know Him well — to long to understand Him and value Him with all our hearts and minds.

So, start by asking Him — pour all those things in your heart out; to Him every question, every tear, even every accusation you hold against Him are like costly offerings. Yes, all these things qualify as things to give to God. And don’t worry, even if you know that what you hold in your heart is not true and yet you believe it, He will take it all. He will test the substances and purify your heart.

The way to be closer to God is to let Him be closer to you, being confident that He did not save you to then incriminate you with the sins you let Him see, but to transform the girl or guy that still functions as a slave to these things.

Walking Home to Him

There have been several periods in my life where I have felt profoundly hopeless, or at least short on my supply of hope. I’ve keenly wondered where God was and how He planned to restore my hope and the feeling that I was truly blessed. I wanted to believe, yet I also wanted to not have too much trouble seeing. To demand to see is to long to feel easily aware of what we would rather not hang our whole beings on in unflinching belief.

How little, as a people, we are open to hardships that test our beliefs, and draw out our neediness for God. We can easily proclaim that He is all that we need, when we want to feel very spiritual about our relationship with God, but when we see God test, that we treat it as the worst thing in the world.

And, perhaps it is. Perhaps God’s work to establish our souls in Him through situations and events that only faith will fit is the worst thing the god of this world and his followers will ever know. Yet, it is not something they can have any more effect on. What evidences we do see of their activity in and around us has been no less than schemes submitted to the authority of God and permitted that He might accomplish His purposes in us in such a way that He might exterminate evil and rebuff Satan at the same time, even at the point of his greatest contention: our hearts’ most deeply held allegiance.

Think about it: All the demons in this world — forces in number and power we could not fathom — seek day and night to destroy us, but remain entirely subject to our Father in heaven. They cannot make a move without His knowledge and permission.

Now, this fact may startle some of us, and make us question how the God we serve should be justified in allowing evil to have its way with us at any point. We might decide in a fit of confused rebellion, I will not accept this!

But, please, pause for a moment and consider our alternative: Evil with complete control of our lives. This is what Jesus died to save us from!

God is the One to save us from the evil we fear and the death we are powerless to ward off. Believing in Him and the power of His death to deliver us from evil does not mean that we will never again experience the effects of evil, however. While on this earth, we live in the presence of evil and the bitter consequences of its power; yet, one thing we may already know to be lifted from us, and that is sin’s legal power — it can no longer separate us from the forgiving mercy and loving security of God. We who are in Christ can know in full, throughout our time on earth, the freedom Christ has bought for us from death, damnation and a darkened heart.

That is all the blessing we really need in this life; as Romans 8:31 says, “So what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?” Take this to heart, and you will take Him to heart as well. Amen.