"Don't forget how the LORD your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was teaching you that people need more than food to live--they need every word that the LORD has spoken. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3 CEV)"
Today, Moody Theological Seminary in Michigan begins its summer semester and tomorrow is the first of the classes that I had hoped to be taking as a student enrolled in the MDiv program there. Today, I have reached the top of the mountain to once again find a valley spread before me instead of the plateau. I stumble…my heart does a flip-flop and I will sigh in the briefest of moments….searching the Heavens for the answer of why and begin my descent once more…..after all, there are other mountains in the distance.
The possibilities that rely on God's provision are larger now than before, standing on this mountaintop, even as my flesh sorrows at yet again being 'benched' in this battle of life….the horizon lays spread out before me and I can see all the pitfalls, the jungles, the bogs and swamps and the endless possibilities that God has made. The taller the mountain, the deeper the valley….but in the valleys of our lives, as faith is lived under the nourishing sustenance of God's power, is where we shine the brightest for His glory and reflect His provisional love. As we climb the mountains of this journey, our faith is grown and our unsuitability to the purposes to which we have been called worked off……..and as we sit in the companionship of God upon the mountaintop, we want nothing more than to stay there, but we cannot stay. The purpose in climbing the mountain wasn't to stay on the mountaintop, but to be provisioned in faith to go through the valleys that lie beneath us in an endless vista. As Oswald Chambers says, "it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God."
When we live in the valley, through the trials and tribulations of the jungles of deceptive temptations and gripping bogs of our failed humanity, the sustained faith that we journey through the struggles with…that undeniable focus….brings the 'invisible' God into the visible; undeniable in the movement of His mighty hand in the lives of those He loves and who love Him. George Muller didn't live his life for the honor and accolades of what his heartfelt passion for orphans, but to show in an undeniable way the movement of God…….and he died with 800 bucks of his own funds……..leaving a ministry worth millions shouting God's provision and glory.
I grow weary of climbing mountains, reaching the summit, and finding not the end of the calling and the beginning of the purposed life in His service; but another valley stretched below me and yet another long path towards the next impossible summit. I'd rather be serving as I travel than working on being service-ready. As I stop momentarily upon this mountaintop, I feel the deep sorrow of a life spent in opposition to Him and the required demolition that has to be done to bring me into a place where I am prepared to serve Him as a pastor.
I wish, as I told Shannon last night as we discussed the valleys ahead of us, that I had envisioned this life before so that I could've prepared for all of it beforehand so that there would be no roadblocks, no deep valleys and no long mountain ranges to travel. From birth to purpose to eternity……a gentle sloping valley and rising mountain; the kind of life that some of the Christians I know have led. For a moment, as I stand on those mountaintops that I have climbed in this journey some six years plus now, my heart begs for such a redo….and my Savior whispers, "How would your life that way serve to glorify ME?" It is why I continue to travel this mountainous terrain, it is the reason why I can honestly say that if my Lord tells me I will always strive to the calling but never know its achievement but in being such a fool I will serve His purpose and bring Him glory…..then a fool I will be. A happy, struggling and poor fool.
Because His truth is better than any achievement in this life; His love greater than any possession to have and the provisions that He gives even as we, as broken and imperfect beings, travel towards the image He created us for, the life He offers to us and the purpose to which His glory beckons us……to be the court jester in His courts is better than being a king in any human one.
Today I begin yet another descent down into the valley of this journey…….and as my feet eat up the ground, carrying me further and further from the summit just achieved, I look with a squinting gaze towards that next mountain, envisioning the plateau of this season of my journey towards home and the beginning of the next fully invested with the equipment training necessary to serve my God and my King in the frontlines of this battle. I can't see it's smooth surface and beautiful vista, but I can see the light of the One who waits for me to join Him there as I journey with the One sent to help me get there.
Who knows? According to His words, His promises and His truth…….He has plans for me, to prosper me and enrich me to bring Him glory as only a son and daughter can bring to their Father. Even as I begin to cast off the disappointments that momentarily freeze me upon that mountaintop and begin the descent….I can feel the hope, the joy and the promises reasserting themselves and empowering my feet.
I adjust the straps of my backpack, wiggle my hat on my head and sigh a deep, longing sigh.
Even in my disappointment, I serve and bring praise to my King, my Lord and my Savior.
Ah, a joyful fool am I.