Our majestic, creator God designed each of our lives with such intrinsic precision and detail that we would not even be able to comprehend it. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 corinthians 2:9). If you take just one moment, close your eyes and look back at your life. You will see a thread of God’s faithfulness that runs through and through.
God has designed for us to go through different seasons in our life. I want to break them down to just two, the mountain top high and the valley down below.
Imagine you are on this mountain top. You are enjoying the cool breeze and soaking in this breathtaking view. However, you look further and you see ahead that there is a mountain that is higher than the one you are currently standing on. You now desire to go on and stand on top of that other mountain peak that is higher. Here is the catch, the only way you can get there is by climbing down the mountain you are currently on, walking through the valleys and then climbing up the other mountain. This in a nutshell and in a very simplistic way is what our journey with God looks like.
We desire with all our heart to grow and reach newer heights in our walk with God. This is a precious desire to have. The reason is simple. It is because God is working within us and that we love Him and desire to be close to him. The challenge is that we have to endure a time of testing and a time of being refined before we can reach the other mountain. This is what the valley looks like. A lot of people also refer to this as the wilderness period.
Several months ago, I made a bold prayer. I said, “Lord, I want you more than anything else. I want to know you and grow closer to you. I know that the only way I can do this is by going through a period of testing and refining. So would you test me, refine me, challenge me so that I can grow in you?” I literally asked God to push me into the fire. We all know that God answers prayers, well, sure enough God answered this prayer of mine too.
I soon found myself surrounded by challenges, issues and problems. It almost seemed like they came to me all at once. I felt like I was drowning and I wanted to give up so many times. I failed at several different places and I reached rock bottom. The beauty in it all was that God was with me the whole time. He never left me. I learnt some of the most valuable lessons during this time. Lessons that I would have never learnt otherwise. God broke me in so many areas where I needed breaking, He exposed so many issues that I needed to deal with. Whoever said there is beauty in the ashes couldn’t have been more right. It is one of the toughest places to be in but you can learn and grow the most. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. (James 1:2-4)
Soon, you start making your way uphill to the top of this mountain that is higher. The terrain gets tougher as you make your journey upwards because the higher we aim to grow in our relationship with God and function in the fullness of all he has called us to. The more challenging it is. The enemy can’t stand the fact that you are on your way to something so beautiful. A. W Tozer said, “God never used anyone greatly unless he tests them deeply”. So, often, we get stuck half way up the mountain and we tend to settle down. We tend to build a nice house for ourselves and try and live content. I know that I am guilty of this.
The blaring truth is that the mountain top is not far away. All you have to do is push through— not by your own strength, of course. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) But persevere even when you don’t feel anything. Push through the lies of the enemy- ‘God is far away’, ‘I think He has given up on me’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘God is disappointed in me’, ‘I can’t see anything happening’, ‘How can I face Him after what I have done’… and on and on. Shame, guilt, fear and doubt tend to befriend us so easily and it is not difficult to get sucked into it. However, just knowing the truth about who God is can set us free. When you reach the top of this beautiful mountain, you will be so much more mature, more Christ-like and more equipped than when you were at the previous mountain top.
Sometimes we try to build bridges from one mountain to the other instead of going through the process of being refined and tested. Don’t waste your time trying to build a man-made bridge to connect you to a place of a higher calling. Instead surrender and go through the process. The process is the painful beauty of the journey.
I want to end by saying this. The Israelites could have made it out of the desert in 11 days but they were in there for 40 years. Did they get to the promise land? Yes they did. But they could have got there a lot faster if they had simply been obedient and trusted in the ways of God. The same principle applies even to us. Live in surrender and God will take you to the promise land as is His Promise.