The next few weeks we are on a journey of ascension – learning to go up when all of life pulls us down. Monday I posted the first poem in a series of six about the call to go up and walk with God when, and especially when, our legs are tired from walking. Today marks the journey of the second poem. Take a moment to read it in a quiet place and give yourself time to respond to the questions that follow with a prayerful heart.
The Sun it rises o’er the valley
Giving Light to all I see
Fingers tracing, Fingers probing
Paths of well-worn antiquity.
Sends it fleeing
To furthest corners of space and time
The paths are open
The hills, they beckon
“Come and see!”
“Daughter, Come and climb!”
He’s set my heart to come and worship
He’s clothed my heart to truly live
The One who beckons, I have tasted
He is glory, deep within –
All my ways are known before You
I have told You everything
Yet You take me,
Own me, know me
Want me, with my everything.
So clothe me with Your lovely glory
Teach me Your Paths, O Gracious One.
Remove the false,
Get rid of darkness
For I have tasted lips of the Son.
(Proverbs 2:1-15; Psalm 119:26, 29; Psalm 2:12)
After putting on the new garments described in the first poem, “Clothed,” and receiving covering from the God who loves, forgives, and accepts us though Christ, we next begin to hear God’s call on our lives to ascend and go up the mountain, walking in His paths and His ways.
For years, I’ve wrestled with this issue of ascension and calling: who am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? And after years of struggle in trying to measure my life by what I’ve become and the things I have accomplished while coming up short every single time, I have come to realize that God’s call has nothing to do with vocation, accomplishment, or perfection. Instead, it has everything to do with obedience. His call doesn’t come when we do a certain thing or perform a certain way or head down the perfect path. His call comes to us, to those who love the Lord Jesus, no matter what we are doing or how imperfect our circumstances have become.
I’ve learned that as we choose to heed His call to walk in His ways through His Word, through prayer, through living out the life of love, forgiveness, humility, submission, and obedience He calls us to walk, we become the people He has for us to become along the way, as we walk.
So whatever season of life you are in today, if you are stuck at the bottom of the mountain asking yourself if you will ever make it to the top of the mountain, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you stuck at the base of the trail, trying to find the perfect route up through the perfect profession or city or job or relationship or circumstance before you try to take the first step up the mountain? If so, tell the Lord as honestly as you are able what keeps you feeling “stuck” at the bottom instead of ascending towards the top.
- Consider the prophets’ words in Micah 6:8 and Isaiah 66:2: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”…”But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). The person God is with, with whom He chooses to dwell, is the one who trembles at His Word, or, in other words, the one who reads His Word, absorbs it, meditates on it, and chooses to believe and obey the One who is speaking. And the call on every Christian’s life is to take God’s Word and begin to live it out, walking humbly, loving kindly, and doing justly. It’s that hard and it’s that simple. That’s your calling and that’s my calling, no matter who you are or what you do. So this means we can put our maps down, we can stop trying to figure out the perfect path, the perfect circumstances, the perfect “calling,” and we can just begin to walk. As a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. As a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or janitor. As someone who has lived in the same place her whole life or moved every single year of life. So here’s your question…finally. How do you need to begin the journey up the mountain today, right where you are? When was the last time you were in God’s Word, reading it, thinking on it, meditating over it, struggling to comprehend and obey it? And what was the last specific thing God told you to do? Did you do justice? Did you love kindness and forgive and take a step towards your enemy? Did you walk humbly with God, yielding to His leading or did you demand your own way? Did you obey Him or did you just think He made a good suggestion? As George MacDonald says, “Obedience is the soul of knowledge.” So go back and do the thing God told you to do, and you will be amazed at how the way opens up before you. Take a moment to write out the next step or steps up the mountain God is asking you to take, and begin taking those steps…today.
- Finally, be confident in your calling to walk up the mountain with the Lord beginning today, this moment. In the immortal words of G.K. Chesterton, “Don’t be afraid to start badly.” Just start. Just take the next step, and then the next one, trusting that God doesn’t call you to then abandon or forsake you at the first fork in the path. Nor does He call you without having a clear picture in His mind of the end result and who He wants you to become. His job is to make sure you cross the finish line; your job is to just take the next step. Consider the words of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Close today by being honest about your fears going up the mountain with the Lord, but also about your choice to trust Him. He will not abandon you, and He will not allow you to become less than He has intended for you to be. Ask for the faith to surrender to His voice and lean upon Him along the way for the next breath, the next decision, the next step up the mountain. You can trust Him to be faithful every step of the way.