It felt like a good night to write about something victorious. Probably because I'm not necessarily feeling all that triumphant. So, logically, it seems the perfect time to work on surrendering my emotions to my will (that kind of thing makes us more like Christ,I think). I don't know about you, but I could use all the practice I can get in that department. Here it goes.
This past weekend I climbed a mountain. It was just the right amount of "difficult" as evidenced by my onerous breathing all the way up; and I had the privilege of experiencing the "good sweat" of typical gym rats, even though I'm confident that a proper lady would have described it as "divine glisten." People passed me and I passed people, heading up the mountain like the little ants we were, dodging crazy downhill runners who were selfishly and dangerously put us all in jeopardy. And for what? To behold some breathtaking vista that we could all enjoy from the comfort and safety of our own homes via a simple Google search? Peh. Certainly I was starting to doubt whether it was worth my own oxygen sacrifice. But I tell you, all I could do was plod on. What could I do? Turn around and say I only climbed half of a mountain? I might as well have climbed a mole hill. And MAN, that trail was quite the labyrinth of turns! I confess that I thought on more than one occasion, "Why am I not at the top yet? I can't even see the top. This must be the old site of the Tower of Babel because I'm pretty sure I'm going to walk right up to heaven. This is way harder than Google said it was going to be. Google lies. Google lies a lot. Can't I just get there already?" When I did finally summit (I'm a hiker now, we use that word), I realized that only forty five minutes had passed, that the view WAS in fact better in person than the pictures I had looked at online, and that everyone else was voicing some of my same reactions. I heard the following: "We made it!", "Hallelujah, hallelujah!", "Wait till those guys get up here, it's totally gonna be worth it." I sat there,nearly 1,600 feet above sea level, and marveled.
"Is this what it's gonna be like, Lord, when my faith finally becomes sight? When I'm in heaven with You? Will it all be so very worth it because of what my eyes will behold? I know there's gonna be celebrating, but will the exultations be sweeter because of the arduous path it takes to get there? Does it all have to be so very hard? Maybe the art of climbing a mountain is really about fixing my eyes on You, Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), and gazing on You and Your beauty. Seeing with the eyes of faith now what I will behold then. Man, I get so fixed on the present, the seen, and the transient that I blind myself to You, to what You're doing, to WHO YOU ARE. You are my STRENGTH, enough to help me persevere until that awesome day. How am I not thanking You all the time for being my HOPE, for being Someone I can cling to? I'm sorry. Forgive me."
It was a beautiful moment we shared, and I felt like I understood my job right now is to plod on, with eyes fixed on him. The journey will be worth it because with every act of obedience, dependence and trust, I'm getting closer to Him and to that day when I will see Him.
Just as I started to head down, I heard this woman say to this other woman who was still climbing, "You're almost there, it's just like right around the corner." The woman responded, "Man, this is like the neverending story." I had to smile at the irony. She was almost right except for one thing. It's not the journey that's neverending, it's the destination. PRAISE THE LORD!
It would seem that we do everything in our power to avoid being lonely. We seek out relationships constantly--whether they are healthy or not--we pursue interaction. Obviously the media, (cough, SOCIAL media, cough) bolsters our desire for it every way it can, practically yelling the message that to be lonely is to be sad. Well, either sadness or that prideful, "I-am-human-hear-me-roar-and-I-don't-need-anyone-to-make-me-happy" cover we create aids our coping. Not only to we chase social satisfaction, but we shovel activity into the mouths of our clocks so every moment is engorged with busyness. How can we be lonely if we don't have time for it, right? Fear keeps us from drinking that perceived "toxin" of solitude, for doing so might yield vulnerability, quiet, and possibly reflection. Yes, the extrovert has their gregarious tendencies, but they are not the only ones who dread a life of seclusion. Since we know that God has created us ALL for relationship and community, this applies to all of us.
And once again, we see the enemy's distortion of God's image in us. We have forgotten that He created us for relationships because of the even greater truth that HE WANTS TO BE IN COMMUNITY WITH US. All of the contact we yearn for can only be truly and completely satisfied in Him. He's either everything to us or He's nothing. Certainly He desires us to be in community with others for countless reasons, but far too often we try and fill the loneliness void with everything except for Him. In so doing, we miss out on the way that He has REDEEMED loneliness. He redeemed loneliness with the most amazing, beautiful, matchless gift of HIS NEARNESS. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18). I firmly believe that He allows loneliness to grant us a level of His nearness that draws us into deeper intimacy with Him, the kind of closeness that overflows into the exclamation that "as for me it is good to be near God" (Psalm 73:28) The rest of that verse gives us another clue to the art of loneliness. "I have made the LORD God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." He's all about promoting His Name and getting us to a position that we can proclaim His marvelous deeds. So, I encourage you the next time you are lonely, make the Sovereign God your refuge, and discover the riches of His presence.
Sovereign Lord, We praise you for never ever leaving us alone, even though sometimes we feel lonely. Thank you for the ways you teach us how to work through our loneliness so that you get the glory. We would do anything so that you get the glory. May Your Holy Spirit help us understand more facets of Your nearness, for You are infinite, and there is still so much to learn about Your most lovely closeness. Thank you for allowing us to feel lonely, and thank you Jesus for experiencing loneliness here on earth so You can comfort us more effectively by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for being our remedy for loneliness. Oh, how we love you Lord. Amen.
When was the last time you thought that loneliness was a good thing?
Whoa. The last time I launched my thoughts in such an exposed format was Xanga. Unless, of course, you count Facebook statuses, which I do not. For this will be likely more revealing and hopefully downright humbling. Even if no one reads it.
Yeah, I know. I'm late in the game to the whole blogging thing. That fact nearly caused me to reconsider adding this little tab to my website at all. I mean, once you've read one blog or one person's thoughts, haven't you read them all? What HASN'T been done? Each one straining to offer something completely original. The right side of our brains began to be stretched even further with the birth of Pinterest as we "oohed and aahed" over clever solutions to problems and were amazed by the resourcefulness of others. It seems that now the "race to the top" is not simply about getting there first, but about having something "never been seen before." Yes, it is the Time of the Artist and Age of the Innovator. As someone who falls into those categories, I say, FINALLY.
But HOW do we possibly stand out in the Ingenious Sea where so many are exceptional visionaries? In nearly all creative fields, the adage "It's all about who you know" is certainly the driving force for propelling someone forward. And of course, social media and our increased access and availability to people all over the world makes marketing one's personal portfolio practically child's play. (Apparently failure can only come from sheer ignorance or laziness.) But even with all these outlets, I think it has less to do with OUR efforts and OUR promotion and more to do with God's OMNIPOTENCE, SOVEREIGNTY and CHOREOGRAPHY. If it had MORE to do with us, wouldn't that mean somehow we were greater than Him? If He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30), then that should even be the motivating factor in my getting noticed. More and more of HIM should be somehow displayed. I mean, even JESUS promoted His Father first. "'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. '" (John 5:19)
And maybe deeper still, WHY is it so important that people know me? To make getting noticed a true art form, it boils down to MOTIVE. In my current situation, it would be so easy to say I'm putting myself out there so I can get a job and pay my bills so I can have the safety and security that a good ol' independent American needs. It's a good thing that's NOT my goal. I'd be miserably failing. But if my goal is "doing everything to the glory of God" (Col. 3:17), and for HIS NAME'S SAKE, then God sees a humble heart, and we know that's just the kind of heart He can work with (Psalm 18:27). And then I don't have to worry about whether all my promotional efforts come to anything because now His interests and mine are ALIGNED (i.e. for HIS glory), and so He does the work to bring the fruit: the job that will best keep me humble so that His Name can continue to be advertised.
O Lord, please keep us ever humble that it may never be about us and ever, only all about You. For there is none like you O Lord who is worthy to be praised and honored and magnified. We praise you for all the ways you have made Yourself known in our own lives; Your power is infinitely mighty and strong. Thank you for being such a magnificent Jehovah Jireh, providing for one need after another.
What do YOU think is pivotal to getting noticed?
Brittany Van Ryn
Working out thoughts with HIM.