The Journey…

Camel Shadows

(FreeImages.com/AmandaRhynes)

The past few days, I have been feeling some discouragement.  The journey of life can be like that.

The Lord then brought to my mind the story of the Israelites.  They had left the slavery and oppression in Egypt, but then after days, weeks, and months of wandering in the wilderness, they started to think that maybe slavery back in Egypt might be preferable to the challenges of their circumstances.  The desert was hot.  They were thirsty.  They ate the same food every day.  They had attacking armies to fight.  They were tired of their bickering neighbors, the noise of so many people, the lack of solitude…

The Promised Land sounded more and more distant.

The Israelites didn’t realize that the journey was part of their preparation for the Promised Land.  They couldn’t reach the Promised Land without first fighting the battles and overcoming their enemies, without learning dependence upon God’s daily provision of Manna, and without discovering that He was their shelter from the blazing sun and their light in the darkness.

I want to skip the battles.  I want to forget that my daily life is dependent upon God.  I sometimes forget that He is my source of comfort, shelter, and light.

The Promised Land is never reached through my own efforts.

The journey to the Promised Land teaches me that I am completely dependent upon God.  As I eat my daily provision, experience His help in my daily battles, and take comfort in His shelter, I learn the greatness of His faithfulness.

Great is His faithfulness!

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A View From The Mountain

 

Last week, my family took a vacation to a cabin high in the mountains.  We had an amazing time enjoying the sounds of the birds chirping in the mornings, the twinkling lights from cabins scattered across the mountains, the crisp and clean smell of pine-scented air, and the panoramic views from our mountain perch.

Besides all of the family connection time, I also really treasured the opportunity to sit quietly on a rocking chair with a cup of steaming coffee, cocooned in a warm blanket, and with my Bible in my lap.

They were simple times of quiet reflection — just pondering the passages I was reading, listening to what God was speaking to my heart that day, and basking in the warmth of the sun and His love.

The following Scripture is the main passage I kept reading during my devotional time last week:

Isaiah 57:15

15 For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

There I sat, viewing mountain peaks and reading about God’s “high and holy place.”  I began to cross-reference other passages.  I read the passages when the Israelites were camped at the base of Mount Sinai.  Joshua and Moses were the only ones to climb that mountain into God’s Presence.  The rest of the Israelites were too terrified.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be like the Israelites — to look at God’s holiness and to turn or hide in shame and to think that such an invitation is only for the “Moses’s” or “Joshuas” that we admire.  The truth is that each of us are invited through Jesus to enjoy the “mountain” of His high and holy Presence.

Gazing out over the distant mountain peaks, I could hear the quiet invitation from God…  He was inviting me to go “higher” with Him — to enter deeper into His holy Presence and His love.  He was telling me that there is “higher” or “deeper” to go with Him.

Ascending the mountain also represented an invitation to let go of the things that weigh me down and hold me back.

God’s Presence is pure righteousness.  As I enter “higher” with Him, I, at the same time, am asked to become more like Him and more like the person whom I was ultimately created to be.

Worship is the outflow of being in His Presence — His holy mountain.  Holiness was required to enter His holy mountain.  We need to allow God to purify us.  It’s a pure heart that shall see God.  At the heart of holiness is humility, and at the heart of worship is holiness.