Thursday, June 4, 2015

Coming 'Round the Mountain

My Photo- Linville Falls, NC
                I love the mountains, after the sea it is my second favorite place to be. I love to hike and climb them. I love to walk around them and take in all the beauty of God’s creation. However, some mountains I would rather not see ever again. These mountains have nothing to do with God’s creation, but have everything to do with mine. I have a few mountains in my life that I just keep going around. Day after day, week after week and month after month, there I am, going around the same mountain. I pray, I beg, I plead, but there I am again, taking another trip around the same mountain. I am getting dizzy and I want this mountain to finally, once and for all, move! But, unfortunately, I am learning that the only one who can move this mountain is me.
“You have commanded Your precepts to be kept diligently.”
 Psalm 119:5 ESV
                Commandments are directions given to us by God in regards to our lives. He gives us directions in regards to how we are to think, act, talk and feel towards Him, others and life in general. He gives us directions on how we are to react to fear, pain, hate, love, joy, etc. The Ten Commandments are ten precepts in how we are to conduct ourselves in the world. Jesus shows us in Matthew 26:36-40 that the Ten Commandments can be summarized into two very simple precepts- love the Lord our God and love our neighbor.
                A precept is a commandment, a direction give to us as a rule to act on in regards to our conduct in the world. For instance Jesus tells us that if someone would strike us on the right cheek, we should give them the other one too. (Matthew 5:39) This is a precept on how we should respond to being persecuted. God gives us commandments. He tells us to love Him and love others. The precepts are our response to His directions. God tells us to love Him and the precept is to do it with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. The commandment is the what, and the precept is the why. If we love Him, then we will trust Him, we will heed the instructions He has given us. Why do we not see that every need we have, every response to every situation, every circumstance that can or ever will take place in our lives is written down for us in His Word?
                We search out counselors and a multitude of advice for our lives, but we never seem to run to the source of all life- the Word of God. We have been given every single thing we could ever need to live this life in godly fear and holiness. Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:3, that all things that pertain to godliness and living holy lives have been given to us by God through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is nothing that can or ever will happen to us that God has not already addressed and given us instructions about in His Word. He has commanded, instructed and directed us in every single trial, trouble, struggle, sickness, hurt, pain, triumph and glory that has ever or will ever take place. He wrote it all down for us in 66 books known as the Bible. The Bible is your instruction manual for every single circumstance life will throw at you. But it does us no good if we never do anything with it. The Bible is our road map to get us off this mountain we seem to be stuck on.
                The Psalmist also tells us in 119:4 that He has commanded and instructed us in every single life moment, but if we do not keep His word with diligence then it is all for nothing. What point is learning to ride a bike if you are never going to own one? What is the point in learning to swim if you are afraid to get in the water? If we do not take heed to listen to and to guard His Word in our lives then we might as well hang up the towel and walk away. If we are not going to listen to the instructions He is giving us to get off this mountain, then what is the point of leaving it at all? If we are not going to listen to His instructions on how to remove this mountain from our lives, then we might as well build a log cabin, put out some flowers and call it home.
“Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes!”
Psalm 119:5 ESV
                Day after day I find myself picking up the trekking poles and heading out to go around this mountain one more time. I find myself struggling with the same issues, the same distractions and the same rocks to climb. I pray and ask for forgiveness, I pray and beg Him to change me, to move this mountain from my life. I cry and beg and plead with Him to break me and make me new. One of the things I used to tell my children when they were young and had a struggle with someone or something, was if they wanted the situation in their lives to change they had to be the first ones willing to change. I keep going around this same mountain because I want to go around it. If I was really ready to stop this endless circle then I would heed His word which He has already spoken to me and get off this trail once and for all. I am still trekking this trail because I am not ready to give it up yet.
My Photo- Hiking up Linville Falls
           Deuteronomy 5:32 encourages us to be “careful, therefore, to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” God’s Word, the Bible that is sitting on your table in front of you, is your instruction manual on how to dismantle that mountain in your life. There is nothing that can or every will happen to you that God has not already prepared you for.
     I know I need to change, I know I need to give this entire mountain over to the Lord and stop walking around it. But, here I am coming around this mountain again! The Psalmist says to the Lord that he hopes that his ways may be steadfast in keeping His statutes.
                The reason why I keep going around the same mountain is because I am not ready to heed the instructions my God has given me in regards to this area of my life. He will make your paths straight and that mountain you keep running around will go away if you will just listen to what He has already told you to do. 2 Peter 1:4 encourages us that we have exceedingly great and precious promises so that we may be partakers of the divine nature, and that because He has given us everything we will ever need we no longer have to walk in the world of hurt, pain, lust and greed. That mountain in your life can and will be moved if you will just listen to His word. He has given us a way of escape, but it is up us to take it. We do not have to take the long way around that mountain- we can take the short cut found in His Word. The reason why that mountain is still in your life is because you are not ready to get off it quite yet. You are not ready to give it up. But when you are ready, know that His Word is all the equipment you will ever need to finally make that mountain move out of your life.
“Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on Your commandments.”
Psalm 116:6 ESV
                I don’t know about you, but some of these mountains in my life cause me to feel pretty bad about myself. Especially when I pray and ask for forgiveness for the mountain yet find myself making my way around it again. I know I need to walk away from these mountains, and I know what He wants me to do to get off of them. Yet I don’t think I want to leave this mountain yet. I know what He wants me to do about this mountain, and He has shown me how to remove it, but here I am, running around it one more time in the hopes He will forgive me one more time.
                The words of the Psalmist remind me that there is only one place my eyes need to be fixed, and it has nothing to do with this mountain. If we want to live a life of godliness, if we want to live for God bad enough then we will fix our eyes on His commandments. The Psalmist tells us to focus on His word. Everything we need to live this life is found in His word, all we must do is fix our eyes on it. We do not need anyone or anything else; all we need is His word. We do not need a better counselor, or a wiser pastor, all we need is His Word. We will never be ashamed of the mountains in our lives if we fix our eyes on Him.
                We have all lost focus before. We have been looking at an object and our eyes get distracted so we look away. We begin to focus on the distraction more than the original object and eventually the distraction becomes greater in our focus than the original object. When we wake up and realize that we’ve lost focus, we try to look back and find the object. Unfortunately, sometimes, when we look away for too long we have a hard time finding our way back to the original. We can no longer see the original because we were too focused on the distraction. The same is true for His word in our lives. If we spend too much time focusing on objects other than Him and His word we may
My Photo- Top of Smokey Mountains outside Boone, NC
become lost and lose sight of Him in our everyday lives. Things will start to slip and more and more distractions will grab our attention. If we are not careful we will fall off the mountain we are circling and we might not ever recover from it.

                Our instruction manual tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus, do not let them turn from the right hand or the left. Everything we need to live this life has been written down for us in His word. The reason why we are still running around these mountains in our lives is because we want to, not because we have to. Keep His Word always before you, listen to and follow His commandments and that mountain will move. The Bible tells us so. Amen.