Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking to the hills when you want to RUN for them....



“It seems like SOMEONE always wants SOMETHING from me ALL the time,” exclaimed the mother of 5 over the phone. “Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I just want to run for the hills….”

As a new pastor’s wife at the time, I stared out the window into our backyard wishing I had some words of wisdom to impart. But the truth was that I felt the same way with only 2 small children. I listened and promised to pray for her, but as I hung up the phone I felt my own discouragement settle in.

Only days earlier, in a moment of bitter tears and discouragement over my parenting failures, the darkness whispered, “You should run. JUST LEAVE. Your kids would be better off without you.”  

Lies. Lies. LIES. But in that moment I saw why moms want to run. And why some do…. 

By the grace of God, I was able to think on what was TRUE in that moment. “No mom” is NOT better than an imperfect mom. And truly what lay behind that dark deception was not really concern for the well fare of my children, but the need to humbly accept my own weaknesses and failures and trust the Lord- not only to forgive them but also to be bigger than them. The Lord knows I am but dust: I will fail many times over but he has called me to faithfulness in spite of it. Leaving is exactly what Satan would want me to do. RUN. 

But the question becomes how do we stay when we want to run like the wind? How do we not lose it while we feel like we are losing our minds? What do we do when we feel we are failing so miserably that falling off the face of the earth is better than facing our children?

One day I was ready to run. Bickering children, a failed attempt at dinner, piled up laundry, unpaid bills and the pressures of life had mounted up so high I could not see anything else. Yet it was then that I was reminded not to run for the hills but to LOOK to them as the Lord brought this to mind.

I lift my eyes to the hills where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

These verses have become my meditation in those moments when I feel the waters rising and I want to make a break for it to. They have been my life raft when the cares of this world threaten to drown me.

This beautiful psalm was written as a song of ascent, sung as the people of Israel made their way up to Jerusalem. The journey was difficult and fraught with many dangers along the way. Fear and anxiety could easily fill their hearts as they considered them all- robbers and mobs hiding in the hills just to name a few. But there was also exhaustion as they surveyed those hills before them

Between fears and fatigue, the psalmist was in need of divine help to finish the journey before him. He looked to the hills but his help did not come from them. His help came from the One who created those very hills he was climbing- the same arduous ones he had to conquer to reach the end of his journey: the Maker of heaven and earth. 

“The psalmist gives strong testimony, My help comes from the Lord. The psalmist affirms all the dimensions of help that he needs- physical, emotional, and spiritual. He is not looking to the mountains for his help nor to anything or anyone dwelling on these hills. Rather, he looks to the Maker of the mountains-God himself- for this assistance.”- Steve Lawson

When the psalmist looked at the hills, he saw it all: the dangers, the fears, the difficulties and exhaustion. Yet he also saw and, in the same breath, acknowledged from where his help will come. He acknowledged Him as the Maker of those hills, as the One who is sovereign over all the cares they will bring, and as the One who grant him help and strength for everything he faces.

For me in my moments of fear and weariness, it is easy to get stuck sitting on a rock of discouragement with the hills of my journey looming large before me. Never looking beyond them to acknowledge their Maker. 

But to get up off that rock, I must look to HIM.

He is sovereign over every challenge of loving and caring for my home even when I feel overwhelmed and ready to break. The sovereign Creator and Sustainer of my life is in control of every hill(big or small) that I encounter- every drink spilled, temper tantrum thrown, wayward child gone stray, family member passed on to eternity who is grieved in the middle of it all.

He is forgiving when I fail again and again. My gracious Redeemer is covering every miserable mothering moment- every raised voice, impatient correction, selfish thought, missed opportunity to love and to show them the way to a Perfect Savior. 

Not only does he forgive my failure and grant me grace, not only does he sovereignly place everything into my life that I face, but he is my help when I feel like I cannot go on.

He is the one who called me on this journey to seek him and he will give me help for every step along the way. These hills are not going away, but they are not going to because they serve a purpose much greater than pushing me over the edge. They are part of the journey meant to refine and shape me into the likeness of Christ- to let go of my independence and seek the Lord for his help, his hope and his strength. 

With every step up the mountain I see more of Him: his goodness in the midst of my sin, his grace in the midst of my guilt, his strength in the midst of my weakness, his help in the midst of my need, his assurance in the midst of my doubt, his calm in the midst of my storm.

But in our culture of “just do it” and “you can do anything” (forgetting that is true only through Christ who gives us strength), so often as believers, when we find ourselves at the end of our rope, we feel as though we have failed (so NOT true. See 2 Corinthians 8-10). 

We call a friend. We heap on more guilt thinking should be able to make it through. We sit on our rock and bemoan the mountains we don’t have the strength to climb. We do anything, but ask for help from the only One who can give it.

What an example scripture sets for us in the Psalms with over 30 declarations of the need for God's help in that book alone. We must learn to call out to him for help as the psalmists did over and over, remembering God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Years ago as a young mom I read from a story that has remained with me ever since. It is one of my favorite real life mama-gonna-lose-her mind illustrations of a woman who knew how to seek the Lord as the mountains loomed and were far too tall for her to climb alone.

I remember a night when I was asked to help get dinner on the table. Dad was out of town, and Mom, seven months pregnant and caring for five children ages two to nine, was serving my most-hated meal -- Black eyed peas and Spam…. I complained loudly about the dinner, and soon Mom disappeared from the kitchen. I called to find her and got no answer…. Something drew me to the basement, and I found her at last in the furnace room. It was completely dark and she was crying. Seeing her sever-year-old standing there in fear, she wiped her eyes and told me she needed to come pray for more strength. That early image of Mom as intercessor and supplicant fills my mind and memory now with its poignancy and truth. Instead of shouting in anger at my childish insensitivity, she withdrew to call on more reserves from her heavenly Father, abundantly available to her for the asking. (2 Corinthians 9:8)*

So I am praying for you today that when you grow weary, instead of running to the hills, you will look to the hills and remember their Maker. Let us then RUN.... but to our Sovereign, Forgiving, ever-ready-to-help God, trusting that he will provide the help and grace for every mountain we must climb on our journey to Him.


*quoted from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.

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