We want stability, security, a rock solid foundation. Often when my life seems to spin out of control I yearn for the safety of standing on the rock. I want that, do you? A rock – firm, solid, stable, holding me up. But sometimes it feels like the ground shifts, and my feet sink and wobble. The earth trembles or quakes when I want to go to higher ground. Higher Ground, have you heard that song? As I sang the song in church last month the words took on new meaning as I tried to visualize Standing on the Rock, the firm foundation of Christ.
All other ground is sinking sand
Can you hear it? I need to believe it deep in my soul so I don’t go stepping out on my own. You know… that pride issue when we think we know better than God which way to turn. Or we can’t believe God would allow this particular bad stuff into our lives. What’s your bad stuff? Sickness, betrayal, death of a loved one? Mine is stinky relationship problems. I need to climb back to my Rock, my stability, my Lord.
Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV) 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
A few years ago my husband Kim and I went on a canoe trip in Montana and when we signed up we didn’t realize that a big part of the activities was rock climbing. How did we miss that? We went with friends and all of us were…well, we weren’t young anymore. Old enough to figure out what we were signing up for! We live in Iowa and made the trek to the middle of Montana where we joined our guides and dipped our canoes into the Missouri river.
My husband and I had never paddled a canoe together, an activity right up there with hanging wallpaper together in terms of a potential relationship disaster. But we zig-zagged along the river to our lunch stop in spite of my inexpert advice on how to steer with the paddle. Longsuffering husband Kim just smiled, nodded, and wisely kept his mouth shut as he paddled his own way.
After a good lunch, the guides said we were going on a hike. The Missouri River cut its way through sheer rock. The resulting bluffs towered above us and they said the view from up there was tremendous. Um okay. I wondered how the heck we would get up there. I felt woefully ill-prepared but fell in line to hike.
We climbed. Up. And up. I carefully picked my way trying to test for rock wobbles and yes, that shifting sand. Someone ahead yelled they saw a rattlesnake. Hey, I’m a city girl and was torn by a desire to see a real rattlesnake, or not.
The guide’s dog Walter scrambled along with us. I kept my eyes on the ground and the feet of those ahead picking our trail amongst the rocks. I was so worried about my climbing that I forgot the glorious view that was just ahead, the reason for this hike!
We made it to the top bolstered by the sweet pleasure of accomplishment and enjoyed the view. I was standing on the bluffs, after skittering around the loose rocks of the nerve wracking climb, finally firm on the foundation. The river glittered in the sun, winding far below between the bluffs. I marveled at the new perspective of our view from high above after paddling along the surface and climbing the rocky path.
Isn’t life just like that? We keep our eyes on our trials forgetting to look up to the Lord who promises so much. His blessings to us are always there, but so often we aren’t aware of them as we focus on all the wrong things. We trade the firm Rock of our salvation for the shifting rocks that make up our trials.
We didn’t go here, but gosh, God’s creation is so beautiful!
In Psalm 18 the Lord promises to lift us to high places by making our feet like hinds’ feet.
Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.”
A hind is a female red deer that lives in the mountains and has the uncanny ability to place her rear feet in the exact spot where her front feet found stable footing while running or climbing. She can move with efficient consistency and is the most surefooted of all mountain animals. How like our God to paint such a precise and meaningful word picture for us.
When I get to my high place I can look at the whole view without being consumed by the minutia of problems that plague me in the lowlands. My lowlands can be emotional when I am consumed by sadness or discouragement. A low place I’m sad to admit I’ve been to lately is being confused and overwhelmed by a twisty turn in my life path that was not anticipated. That place I found myself in could not possibly be where I was supposed to be. God in his kindness and loving mercy placed me on my high place. A new perspective, new trust in Him, emotional stability.
Did you notice that little word that personalizes your high place?
God didn’t just place you ON a high place, He placed you on YOUR high place
For me that gorgeous July day on the Missouri River in Montana my high place was a physical place of great beauty. Back in Iowa, an emotional high place for me was seeing my grandsons playing on the hay bales at a pumpkin patch. A high place for a little boy is a simple stack of hay bales. The joy they expressed while conquering the bale mountain gave me joy!
Where was your last high place, are you there right now? But the reality is that my high place, your high place, is right where God wants you, emotionally, spiritually as well as sometimes physically.
Let’s back up a couple of verses:
Psalm 18:31-32, “For who is God but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God. The God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless?”
You don’t do it in your own strength. There are times we can’t make the leap to our high place when we’re stuck in the quicksand of our struggle. It’s all in God’s strength so He gets all the glory. I am facing a relationship challenge right now and when I get discouraged, when I lose hope that things can be better, I know I need to ask God to set me on my high place once again. He is so gracious when I teeter and fall to that dark place in my soul. My part is staying in His Word, in prayer and thanksgiving, and praise. Going to a high place like the towering river bluffs can help my outlook, and letting Him carry me in His strength as He becomes the focus of my thoughts and His plan becomes my plan.
Examine your life, your struggles, any pain you may be stuck in
Ask God to take you to your high places. Your story has your own unique physical high places. I live on the Cedar River in Iowa and grew up on the Mississippi River in Illinois so river bluffs resonate with me. Perhaps you live in the mountains or have amazing memories of the Grand Canyon.
Wherever your high places are, wherever you are standing on the rock, thank God for His strength and hinds’ feet as you scale the heights in your thoughts. Or in person!
The quotes that gave me inspiration for thisThoughts Behind the Quotes post: