Several years ago, my family was in the Lake District of England for several weeks. The list of activities for each day consisted of hiking, hiking, or more hiking. While my girls were not big fans of the long walks this particular part of England is so famous for, I was in heaven. One day, we took the long drive from our village of Elterwater up to see the small but beautiful Lake Buttermere tucked up in the northern part of the Lake District. As we walked around the path encircling the lake with the girls, a trail of smooth stones ascending up the side of the surrounding hills caught my eyes. I can’t quite explain it, but I felt a strong pull to follow the path and go…up. To wherever it led. Jason took one look at my face, knew the look in my eyes after 13 years of marriage, and said, “Go for it. The girls and I will play down by the lake.”
So up I went. I followed the grey stone path up under a canopy of trees, hidden in the shade of the forest, until it came out of the forest upon a stream rushing down the side of the mountain. By now, I was racing against the clock, knowing the time I had with the girls down by the lake was limited. I walked at as quick as a pace as I could, following the path and the stream upwards wherever it led. After about an hour or so, the stream leveled out, and I came to the end of the path, to see a shining blue lake ringed by even higher peaks. I scrambled up the side of one of the surrounding peaks to get a panoramic a view of the lake below and surrounding countryside. I sat for as long as I could, soaking up sounds of bleating sheep and the feeling of being the only one for as far as the eye could see, led up a path by the tugging of a good God who knew how beauty and walking speaks to my soul.
I will never forget that day. And I’m hoping to go back one day and ascend those ancient grey stone steps again. For that path reminds and represents God’s call to me to go up. To pause long enough in the every day paths I walk to follow the Lord’s lead when I feel the tugging of His Spirit on my heart to ascend a particular way, a particular truth, a particular path of obedience.
To humble myself and forgive a certain friend. To humble myself and ask for forgiveness for a specific incident where I was at fault. To risk loneliness for the sake of an untrodden path while knowing the companionship of the Lord awaits. To risk companionship when my tendency is to shrink back and stay back instead of entering the circle of friendship around me. To give when I want to keep. To keep and be still when I’m restless and discontent and just want to give.
I’m learning to follow the path. What about you? Are you too immersed in the predictable everyday to lift up your head and see the ancient way that calls to each and every believer if we just have ears to hear and eyes to see the One who calls to us?
Take a quiet moment to read the following poem, our fifth in a series of six, and then with a journal and pen in hand or in the quietness of your own heart, answer the questions that follow.
You are the Warrior of my Worship
Defender of all Ancient Ways
You keep the paths of wisdom open
For all who lose their life to save
O my God! Fight for my worship!
Keep my heat set upon You!
These feet of mine, they stray so quickly
Off the path, off of all good.
And when I stumble, bleeding badly,
I feel such shame upon my soul
Come and lift my head up higher
To follow You, Lord of all Love.
Arms they beckon, hands they strengthen
Every step along the Way
And as light banishes all darkness
I wake to find Thee in my stead –
Never have I been alone.
Never was I cast aside.
There behind me,
There beside me,
There in front,
You’ve hemmed me in.
I cannot fall
Where You can’t catch me
I cannot stumble
Beyond Your reach
For when our hearts are set on worship
Anointed One, our paths You keep.
- Are you in a place in life where it is easy to worship, easy to lift up your eyes and see the beauty and beckoning of the path God is calling you to? Or are you struggling to find joy and worship in the journey and ascension of relationship with the Lord? Go back and re-read the first six lines of the poem again: “You are the Warrior of my Worship / Defender of all Ancient Ways / You keep the paths of wisdom open / For all who lose their life to save / O my God! Fight for my worship!” Do you know God fights for your worship? Fights on your behalf to keep the ways of intimacy open with Him? Lift up your eyes today, wherever you are, and ask Him for the eyes to see the path He is calling to you to. It will never be contrary to His Word, and will always require you to go deeper in His Word, trusting in His character and His ways, but the way up will be beautiful. Far more beautiful than you or I could ever imagine.
- Since this is Thanksgiving Week, take pen and paper in hand, and divide your life into sections by age. The first section would be 0-7 years old, the second would be 8-14 years, the third 15-21 years, and so on. No matter your age, go all the way up to 91 or 98 years of age (and if you live beyond that, God bless you!), and for each section of your life, write out at least three ways you have seen and are thankful for the faithfulness of God at each step you have taken. Once you reach the age you are currently, switch to writing out at least three ways you know you will see the faithfulness of God continue to work in your life, and three things you would like Him to help you walk out on the path He has for you.
- Lastly, close by thanking Him and praying the last two lines of the poem: “For when our hearts are set on worship / Anointed One, our paths You keep.” Ask Him to keep your heart set on worship, no matter what circumstances in life may occur, and thank Him that He will keep your path set upon Him, no matter what happens, for “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:11-13).
Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for the last poem in this series of six, and remember to connect with me on Facebook if you need further encouragement this week on the way up. I am praying for your heart and mine this week of Thanksgiving. May we thankfully set our hearts on ascending the path and the way of a good God who called us, loves us, and beckons us…upward.