in General Christianity

Mountaintops, valleys and the process of navigating them

The words of Psalm 34:18 provide a great promise during a time of tribulation.

The words of Psalm 34:18 provide a great promise during a time of tribulation.

I knew I couldn’t stand on the mountaintop for long after my faith in Christ was reinvigorated earlier this year.

Moving from the Pacific Northwest to the Ozarks was necessary to heal my heart of a tremendous pain suffered when a choice I made in my life didn’t pan out. I healed from that last year suddenly and without even trying, and I knew my remaining time here would be to grow into finally being able to live with myself and accept myself without legions of friends I had previously been surrounded by.

Don’t get me wrong, I have friends here, and the ones I have are good and solid. I love them. I appreciate them. And I need them. There just aren’t too many to choose from, as my time here has been one of more of quiet, living in the background and having to be okay with being behind the scenes, so to speak.

A recent opportunity presented itself in which I could have moved home to the Northwest. I had expressed optimism regarding the situation to close friends, and asked them to pray about it. I felt confident, they felt confident and I admit that in my head I was already starting to plan for a “what if I went back” scenario.

Suddenly, the door shut. Just like that — opportunity gone. One moment it was there, the next it had been detonated; the only telltale sign it ever existed was a wisp of black smoke.

At first I was miffed. We had prayed! God was going to answer my prayer! I was operating in faith that something good was going to happen, and I was expecting God to move mountains!

Instead of moving mountains, he moved me off the mountain. Now here I sit in a valley, the first real test of my faith since that seminal moment in the Louisiana church that I felt God stir my heart as I sang “Revive Us Again.” The valley is cold, dark and it doesn’t feel good being here.

However, just because I stand in the valley doesn’t mean that God doesn’t walk with me through it. I have come to realize that after all, he did actually answer my prayer. It just wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Sometimes we as Christians get such a narrow view of God and put him in such a small box that when he allows something to happen in our lives that can ultimately be of our benefit, we bristle and blame him for doing something that we don’t like because it’s not what we want.

Wanna know something? God doesn’t always answer yes to our prayers. I’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t even answer yes to our prayers two-thirds of the time. The methods of God are something we cannot explain, and we have to be okay with it. The core essence of the Christian faith consists of us relinquishing a good portion of the desires of our own lives.

Don’t think that I don’t believe we control most of our own destiny on this planet. I think we have more of a hand in our own affairs, even as Christians, than we’d like to admit. I get upset when people tell me there is a “perfect will” of God for us to follow to a T on this earth. Point me out to someone that has had that “perfect will” laid out for them and have fallen in lockstep with it…not possible.

God is with us in whatever decisions we make, in good faith on his part that we will do what we will in life and be effective ministers of His good news along the way. That’s what it’s all about.

During this difficult time, I have been comforted with the writings of men inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen the words in the Bible. The Psalmist was right on when he wrote exaltation in Psalm 34:18, declaring that the Lord comforts the brokenhearted. Brokenhearted is a good term to describe the past week for me, but it’s not going to last forever.

So no, I don’t get to go back home, and I will remain in the Ozarks for a time as of this moment. And I’m starting to become okay with that.

However, I’m still plodding through this dark valley. I’m likely going to have to get dirty in order to get out of it. But as long as I have the Word of God to guide me through the whole thing, I’m going to be okay and I can start climbing the next mountain. The Word tells me God is with me, but nowhere does it say he will make it easy to navigate my way through this life.

That’s alright with me. It just means I’ll be that much more prepared next time I have to travel through the next valley.

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