Facing the Mountains (part 2)

A couple weeks ago I shared two important disciplines for facing the mountains in our lives. This week I want to share three more.

Remember: When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan on dry ground—finally entering the Promised Land, God told Joshua to have one member form each of the twelve tribes, pick up a stone form the middle of the river and place these stones on the shore together as a monument of remembrance. Joshua 4:6-7 say that these stones were, “‘to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  This is merely one instance of many where God instructed  that a specific memorial or practice be adopted by his people as a reminder to future generations of his faithfulness. When we face situations in our lives that feel mountainous, looking back and remembering the faithfulness of the Lord in previous eras is one way to find strength and courage. The “insurmountable present” somehow shrinks when we look back and see all the mountains God has already led us over.

Don’t let Fear in: When Joel was being sentenced to prison and I knew I was going to be on my own for quite some time, I panicked. I was afraid of everything, from raising the boys alone, to going to bed alone each night, to figuring out how to mow the lawn. I remember thinking, I don’t even know how to pay our credit card bills! Joel had taken care of all of our paperwork and bills for so long I wasn’t sure I would be able to figure it out. Even though fear was the first emotion I felt at the immensity of the task ahead of me, God gently led me to this verse:  Isaiah 41:10, “For I the Lord God hold your right hand. Fear not I am the one who helps you!” I could not stay afraid when I knew the Lord God himself was holding my right hand, helping me in the midst of all my ignorance.

Do the first thing: At the risk of sounding like a secular commercial, I have to issue the challenge to just get going. Dreading the mountain, only makes the climb worse. Starting out is often the most daunting part of any journey. A couple years ago my friend read a book with the hilarious title, Eat that Frog. The point of the book was that when you are facing something you don’t really want to do in your day, you will experience the most success if you just do that thing first. Getting it started or even done, frees up your mental and emotional energies. I often look at my kids who are procrastinating over all kinds of “kid issues”—like homework or picking up their rooms and I think (OK, sometimes I say) “Just eat that frog!”

The other day my son asked me if procrastination is wrong in itself, or is it just when we don’t actually meet a deadline that procrastination is wrong. Well I have to admit that’s a tough one to answer. What I can say with confidence, is if you know what you are facing is filtered through the loving hand of a personal God, then procrastinating feels more like a waste of time than anything.

When Joel first came home from prison his restrictions were intense, and the pressure was enough to make me feel stressed about everything. I felt like I had already been  over the mountain of his absence, just to find a new mountain looming in my path. I was overwhelmed. Then a  friend reminded me, “God won’t allow this to continue any longer than absolutely necessary for your good and his glory. You have to know God cares about Joel and you and your family even more than you do.” Her perspective was such a precious reminder, that I could face this mountain with confidence. I didn’t have to run and hide, rail against it, or just ignore it. I could do the first thing of accepting Joel’s restrictions and their subsequent consequences for our entire family with an assurance of God’s ultimate best still to come.

Mountains are inevitable on this journey. Wildernesses and valleys are too. No matter how cliche it sounds the challenge in every part of the journey is, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Nothing  reduces the mountains down to size like a proper confidence in Him.

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