Today I decided to take a hike; literally. I hiked up the Sandia Mountains hoping to gain some encouragement from time spent alone with God. Along the way ... God spoke to me in a still small voice, and this is the word He gave to me.
1) Keep going ... There is a country song that says, "If you're going through hell keep going". I would not say I have been going through hell, but all of us I believe experience discouragement on life's journey, and we need to know that God says "keep going". Don't give up! Don't turn back! Continue to fight the good fight of faith. God will never leave us or forsake us, so no matter how we feel, we must know God is there and He is greater, so just keep going.
2) Worship ... I went for a hike because I thought it was a good thing to do; a nice way to spend my monthly retreat. However, along the way ... I discovered something. My attitude in worship is not right. I have not been maintaining perspective. I think one of the reasons people in the Bible go up the mountain to pray or worship or meet with God is because it gives you perspective.
In Psalm 61:2, the Psalmist cries out, "From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I". Climbing up the side of a mountain will give you perspective. It is humbling, realizing that God has made everything; as the children's song says, "The mountains are His, the rivers are His, the stars are His handiwork too. My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty there's nothing my God cannot do." God is so much greater, so much higher, so much bigger than I am and it is good to regain perspective.
Another thought that came to me as I climbed the mountain was how easy I approach God. I come to Him in prayer, in worship, in song, and to be honest it does not require a lot of effort on my part. On God's part, it required the death and resurrection of His son. It was extremely difficult for God, and yet it is so easy for me. Because my worship too often requires little effort, I lose perspective. I forget how BIG God is, and how small I am. I forget that apart from Him I can do nothing. Worship which requires effort helps put things back in perspective.
3) Be honest ... Honestly, I wrestled with whether I should share my struggles in this blog or not. Should I share or should I pretend everything is good? And I am glad I chose to be honest. It would not do you any good as you seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus to think that there are some people (pastors, especially) who never struggle with discouragement. It would do you no good because you might never muster the courage to be honest, and you would continue to suffer in silence.
Being dishonest and pretending would have not done me any good either. You would not know how to pray for me, and I would be tempted to deceive even myself by pretending everything is good when it was not.
Honesty before God is something we need to cultivate more in the church. We are the body of Christ. We, together, are one body. So when part suffers, we all suffer. Besides God already knows what's going on. We cannot hide from Him. So being honest puts us on the same page as we speak with God. He already knows what's up, so why try to hide it?
These are a few thoughts God has given me for my journey. I feel encouraged, and I hope you can relate to some of this as well. If you want to share your own honest thoughts, please do so. I and others would love to pray for you as we journey together along the way ...