“My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord…” Psalm 84:2
I’ve often taught my church the difference between knowing and understanding. Truly, there is a chasm of difference. I can know that the grand canyon is “big,” but seeing it for myself would doubtlessly bring a new level of understanding and appreciation for the word.
Sometimes, we must go through difficult circumstances to understand what they mean regarding our relationship with God.
Our perspective is very limited from the top of the mountain. Ironically, we generally sense that we have a better vantage point from the mountain. After all, we can see farther, right?
Don’t get me wrong,… mountains are great! I love mountains. I would even say I prefer mountains. But by definition, a mountain is surrounded by lower ground… a.k.a.: valleys. And it is in the valley that we gain understanding. There are some things, perhaps most things, that we must go to the valley to understand, to appreciate. Only then and there can we gain the proper perspective to benefit from being on the mountains.
Sadly, we usually only experience difficulties because God allows them into our lives, not because we sought them out. I often say, “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.” What I’m really saying is, to experience the best of life through Christ, you must go choose to go to valleys.
But why? right? I mean, after all, valleys are so… low. But few things ever grow on the mountaintop. In the valley, there is life, sustenance, flowing waters… and usually God. James 4:8 tells us to, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” If you’re willing go into the valley with God, not only will you find Him, but He promises to draw near to you.
When you understand this, like David in Psalms 84, you will say, “One day in your courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere.” Translation: “God, I’d rather be here with You in the valley, than have a thousand days on the mountain without You!”
How can you willingly go to the valley? Glad you asked. Here are some ideas:
- Fast. If you’ve never done it, just try to for one day. Or one meal! Fasting is demonstrating that we need God more than food. There are a variety of ways to do this. I will likely post more on how to do this later.
- Give. That’s right. Just give a lot of money/stuff away. Preferably over a period of time. Simple. Kinda. I knew of a couple who decided they were going to reverse tithe. That is, tithing 90% of their income and living on the remaining 10%. Neither of them had above average incomes. But they did it for 3 months. They had to alter their style of living drastically, and yet they never missed a bill. They testified afterwards that you can’t out-give God.
- Choosing singleness. Scripture puts marriage on an extremely high, noble thing to desire. But it also highly commends those who are able to stay single. Admittedly, the Bible tells us that those who are married must first, “care for the things of this world,” while the single person is free to care first for the “things of God.”
- Serving others. You are never more Christ-like than when you put others ahead of yourself. Doing so is a sacrifice of love that God always seems to respond favorably towards.
The limit to pursuing God into the valley is limited only by your creativity and God’s calling on your life. Accept hard times that God allows in your life. But more than that, take the initiative and pursue God into the hard places.