|Week 1| Long Enough
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
“Uh, I hate change”, I thought to myself, as I began to read over the verses in Deuteronomy 1 with a conviction that that Lord was speaking directly to me.
“You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and go to the hill country...as far as the great river.. (v.6-7)”
This passage is indicative of the one thing I fear most. CHANGE.
I had become comfortable with the consistency of control I felt I had in my life. This illusion was brought on by my grad school schedule and lack of any leisure time which quickly dissipated in the reality of the question, “What now”? I had pitched my tent at the top of a mountain I had been climbing for what felt like more than 2 short years. I was accustomed to my pace and practice, content with the company I found there. As I began to take in the view of my present position, I was fully assured that my mountain top would bring clarity to my waiting heart. Plot twist. .
Instead, God’s gentle voice invited me to leave what was comfortable and consistent to journey further than my faith had footing.
Just as the Lord called the Israelites to break camp and turn to the hill country, He calls each of us, in due season, to deepen our faith and grow our trust in Him by setting out into the great wilderness. My natural reaction to this invitation is to question it. “Why, Lord”, I wonder, fearful of the unknown valleys that are sure to come in my decent. What would the Lord possibly have for me in the “hill country”? If I am being honest, it’s in these moments with the Lord, I struggle with my stubborn refusal to move forward in faith.
Looking back, I see that although the mountain top may be calm and quiet, I can become content there with a single view of God greatness. It was here God speaks to our souls, “You have stayed long enough”.
I find this first statement of God’s communication profoundly applicable to our Christian walk. His intent in this call, is characteristic of a Father, instructing His children in the direction that is simply best for them.
“How is this what’s best for me”? I have asked God time and time again when He asks me to move from my mountain.
For loss never feels like love, growth never feels like grace, and pain never feels like it has a purpose.
The reality is simple, we were never meant to stay on the mountain, neither were the Israelites. If we look back to Exodus, we see that this mountain top experience was not their destination but a place to prepare and position themselves to take hold of God’s promised land!
As much as I wish to dispute this truth, there is substantial evidence for its validity. Things must change to grow, to flourish, and to obtain the capacity of their potential. From a developmental perspective, there is a concept called “the zone of proximal learning”. By definition, it is “the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner”( McLeod, 2019).
There are three specific stages of this developmental cycle:
1. What is known
2. Skills which need guidance/encouragement to be achieved
3. What is unknown
I believe this concept can be adapted to bring awareness to our spiritual development as God’s children. In using this frame, we can identify three stages of faith's formation that may bring awareness to our soul's current course.
1. What We Know:
Ask yourself, What do I know of God? What is my current foundation of faith?
Over the last 26 years, I have acquired much knowledge related to what I know of God. His character, His love for me, His grace throughout my life, are all elements I use to form my faith. These experiences have given me a view of God which I often refer to when trials come.. This initial foundation of knowledge is vital to the continuation of my spiritual development.
The problem comes when we stay here. Much like the Israelites, I can become comfortable in looking back at the things God has done in my life rather than reaching forwarded into what He will do further on. This acquired knowledge only gets us so far. You see, we can share stories of God's past mercy, grace, and deliverance, but for our faith to fully form it must move forward. .
I have come to learn that spiritual stagnation limits my view of God's power and promise to be present. With this knowledge, I am compelled to move. I must pack up camp, and intentionally seek new and breathtaking views of God’s goodness and grace.
2. Where We Need Help :
What path is God calling you to which seems impossible? What promise of God have you yet to trust in and claim over your life?
Friend, remember Isaiah’s words, God is all about doing “new things”. In this stage of our learning process, we must take hold of our Father's hand..
As like any student learning new things, we are dependent on the proper guidance and grace to succeed. There is a concept within this learning process called, “scaffolding”, which enables the learner to achieve a goal that otherwise would have been beyond his or her ability.
This practice is contingent on the teacher’s involvement, as they assist the student in the areas which are beyond their level of ability, allowing the novice to master the skills within his or her level of capability.
Oh, how God offers us this “spiritual scaffolding”. As He calls us out to new places, He does not simply say, “ Go, journey on, I will meet you in the promised land." Instead, He graciously walks alongside us, giving us the promise of His presence all along the way.
We see this in scripture, when God states His promise to the Israelites saying, “See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and to their descendants after them” (Deuteronomy 1:8).
He also reminds them of His presence, calming their fears of insufficiency saying, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”(29-31).
|Do not be afraid, the Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you|
These words are water to my weary soul. Encouragement to my discouraged heart, and quiet assurance despite my weakness. If I look at the possibility of growth with this new frame. I find myself more willing to wander into the wilderness knowing that I am not walking alone!
3. When We Do Not Know:
How do you handle the unknowns? This is a challenge for many, myself included. I so badly want to understand and know the works and wonders of God before I take His Hand. Yet, I am reminded that this level of knowledge is only obtained by first stepping out in faith. I cannot skip the stage of scaffolding. For it is within these lessons of learning I am trained to trust in God's Truth.
Ultimately, I must rest my soul in the sovereignty of God, allowing Him to lead me to the knowledge I desperately seek. My pastor said it this way, “God will never take us somewhere He isn't already working”.
He did not send Moses to rescue the Israelites without first hearing their cries and planning their deliverance (Exodus 2-3).
He did not command the Israelites to walk through the water before splitting the seas (Exodus 14).
And He did not usher His people off their mountain without the promise of something far greater (Deuteronomy 1).
Friends, this is what we can hold onto:
When God calls us to move from our mountain, we can be sure that in His power, we have the promise of His presence. What hope we have that our final destination is heaven! For as Paul said, " Our citizenship is in heaven!"
"Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (We) press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3).
I have resolved that there is much more beyond the mountains. I have stayed here long enough. It is time to deepen my trust and challenge my faith in embracing life’s change; looking forward to the new thing, God is about to do!
Called Higher - All Sons and Daughters
“I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again And I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside And I could be safe, oh
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down
But You have called me higher, You have called me deeper And I'll go where You will lead me, Lord."