I read a couple of devotionals each morning before I begin this one. “Today’s Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah” has probably been my favorite for a couple years now. Today’s message touched me. I want to share part of it with you.
“As our faith roots deepen, we realize, God alone is steadfast and unchanging. The world and its people are constantly shifting, like shadows. As we practice gratitude and communion with God, our eyes are opened to His gifts and goodness. This world is temporary. As the reality of our relationship with God becomes tangible, we trust Him as our shield and fortress. Fear dissipates. God is with us. He will never forsake us. As we orient ourselves to Him, we are equipped for the challenges of today. He welcomes us and gently moves us toward His life, healing, and love.”
We all remember those times when we were especially connected with Jesus. We all also remember times when we weren’t. Maybe today is a time you aren’t. That’s ok, in that you realize that you aren’t. The thing also to realize is that Jesus wants so much more for us than a mountain peak of Him once in a while in the midst of valley. We tend to think of church or special retreats as the time/place to really get connected to God. The truth is that we have that same connection available to us 24/7/365, whether we are with special godly people or not. We can have outstanding times with Jesus when we are all alone or even when surrounded by people who hate our guts. The question then is if we are bringing our peaks closer together? Are we making more? What is it that we are doing?
This passage comes to mind.
Isaiah 40:1-5 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I know it seems obvious, maybe too obvious, that life would be easier if we had fewer valleys. We make the mistake to think that we would trade mountain tops in exchange for fewer valleys. While I understand this thinking, it actually forfeits something that we aren’t asked. These mountain tops are precious. I believe that this “highway” that Isaiah is describing is one that is actually brings us to a whole new level. Visualize this with me. Our walk with God does indeed make life’s troubles bearable, does it not? When we look back on the trials of our lives, we should start saying, “I really don’t know how I could have gotten through that without God.” Journaling will certainly help that exercise. So, indeed, God is raising our valleys. Can you see this? Is he then lowering the mountain, as Isaiah says, to fill in the valleys? Is God taking our super highs and using them to fill our low spots?
I don’t think so. In fact, I think he is raising the rest of life so that the mountains don’t seem too high to obtain. Look at it this way. If we have one or two “big” Jesus events, times where we connected so well that we almost couldn’t believe it was real, then we may not think it is even possible to have another like it. For some of us, our moment of salvation was the moment like no other. For some, it was a weekend bible study retreat. Honestly, folks, most of us don’t have that many peaks where we really, really, really connect with Jesus. I suppose part of the reason is that we don’t think we can put all the elements together, like they were back then. Those times seem impossible to re-create.
Indeed, they are, but that doesn’t mean that they are meant to be isolated instances. I’m telling you from my own experience that God raises our “highway” so that these peaks are something we desire, to hunger for. Let me put an image in your head. Have you ever driven up and down a mountain road, one that twists and turns with long downhill grades and incredible uphill climbs? You’ll be tooling along in awe until you see it. See what? See this idiot on a bicycle many miles from anywhere peddling like mad up an ending hill. What is wrong with people like that? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with people like that. Nothing.
As a matter of fact, the finger is pointed in the wrong direction. The “what is wrong” is with me! What is wrong with me that I don’t desire to have what that person has? I’m not talking about athletic ability. I’m talking about a vision of what that mountain is and the unstoppable desire to obtain it. When that happens, folks, that mountain no longer seems out of reach. In fact, our determination becomes so strong that it is something we MUST have. We won’t be able to rest until we do.
That, my friends, is that I believe Isaiah to be prophesizing about in our passage. God raises the entire highway for us, making the difficult parts not only bearable but giving us the ability to thrive in the midst of severe trial. Then, the mountain seems like it is something that indeed is not only possible but desirable. Not only desirable, but something that we simply must have. Yes, our highs and lows will be evened out – in comparison to each other – but the highs only so because the lows and everyday life are raised up, not because the high itself is lowered.
Can you see this? Does it make sense? Therefore, we seek to raise the whole highway. How? By seeking Jesus in all our affairs. Seek him when you first wake. Seek him as you prepare for your day. Seek him on your commute to work. Seek him during the day. Tell others about him and what he means to you. Relish in the thought of him, as someone who has just fallen in love. Remind him how much you love him. Make special time to be with him. Invite him to lunch or to meet someone. He’s the best friend possible. He really is. Start looking at him like that, someone who you really want to hang out with. I tell you what, when you do, you will experience fruit like you won’t believe possible. You will find that he has raised your highway and given you the burning desire to climb that hill, just like the crazy bicyclist.
Check out Isaiah 35:8-10.
Father, it’s so true that your ways are not our ways, your thoughts are not our thoughts. We sacrifice our mountains so that we may not experience the valley. You don’t do that. You bring us through it all so that we may see that you, indeed, are all we need. You, indeed, are our rock and fortress, our Savior and Redeemer. In you, alone, we will trust. Father, teach us to trust you so that we may boldly proclaim the name of Jesus to all. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers