Last week, in MOUNT TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 6, we saw that sometimes God’s plan is different from ours, but it is always the best one out there. But isn’t there an easy way to get out of this valley of problems?
Four summers ago my family had the privilege of visiting our good friends who were living in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. We decided as a group to do some hiking, and after carefully choosing a trail that would accommodate our varying abilities, we set out.
I’m sorry to say, I can’t remember the name of the mountain we climbed. All I remember is that it was a lovely, forested climb over a well-marked trail, and from the top, we had a lovely view of Seattle and of the Olympic Mountains.
It would have been a perfect hike, except …
There were seven of us hiking that day, and as so often happens, we soon split off into three smaller groups: My husband and youngest son were the first in line, next came the two teenagers, and my friend and I, along with her 3 year-old, brought up the rear. It wasn’t long before the shortest legs became tired, and the rear group soon lost sight of the ones in front. We weren’t worried, however. There was only one way up and down this mountain and the trail was well-marked. We would eventually find them.
But we didn’t. When the “slow” group arrived at the summit, my husband and son were nowhere to be found.
The day was already waning, and our only hope was to get down the mountain as quickly as possible and find the place where they had gotten off the trail. Only one problem: The 3-year-old’s energy was all used up. She would not be “hurrying” off any mountain!
We sent the teens ahead to scout out the trail, instructing them to stop every mile or so, or at any possible fork in the trail, and wait for us, while my friend and I took turns carrying the child. It wasn’t until we were nearly at the parking lot before we finally heard the shouting of the two teens: “We found them!”
Shortly after leaving the car, my husband and youngest son had come to a fork in the trail, and instead of looking for the trail indicator, they had simply taken the trail that seemed the most logical to them. Needless to say, their trail did NOT take them to the mountain summit. Neither did it lead them through a beautiful-forested trail! (see the pictures above)
Why didn’t these two make it to the summit? Because they didn’t seek the “right” way. Instead they trusted their own understanding, and it led them astray.
Life is so much like this. We find ourselves in bad situations, we carefully examine the options, and then we take the path that seems the most logical.
But we fail. Oh, God! Isn’t there ANY way out?
I found the answer this morning: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NKJV)
In other words, we have to stop trying to do the climb ourselves! We must stop working out our own solutions! Our must simply do as this verse suggests: Humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, for when we do, He will lift us up!
But how do we humble ourselves before God?
The answer can be found in another familiar Bible text: “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14-15 NKJV)
Basically, the secret to getting out of the valley, to achieving humility, is outlined in three simple steps:
1. The prayer of humility. More often than not, we give God a list of what we’d like Him to do. But this is not an attitude of humility. Instead, let’s use prayer to give God the problem, to ask Him to take care of it according to His will, and then to help us be happy with the outcome.
2. Seeking God’s face. This is simply a reference to learning to see things from God’s perspective, a reference to seeking His will above all else.
3. Turning away from wickedness. This may refer to pet sins and to searching our souls for hidden sin. But I believe it also refers to something far more subtle: When we desire for our will to be done in a situation, then we are in essence saying, “God, since I know more about this situation than You do, here is what I’d like You to do!” There is nothing more presumptuous! This is also a sin that we must turn from!
In summary then, the secret in getting out of the valley lies in handing God the problem in prayer and asking that His will be done above our own. It lies in seeking to know God’s heart in the matter and even if we don’t see the solution, trusting that He does. And finally, it means turning away from our sin and our prideful self-flaunting.
And that’s the secret for getting through our valley experiences.
Join us next week for the conclusion of this series: MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 8: The Cross and Mt. Roberts.
(To access the entire “Mountain-Top Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)