Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mountain tops, valleys, and Martha and Mary

Ever since returning from China in July, I have struggled. I have struggled with what to do next, or now, or because of, etc. People talk about a "high" after a mission trip. I don't know if I would call it a "high" or a "low" or what I would call it really. How about "stumped"? After a life changing experience it is hard to stay status quo, yet life around you goes on status quo. So what does one do with the experience? I tried several times to put into words here some of my experiences because I truly wanted everyone to experience what I had experienced...all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly! Why did I want everyone to experience this? Because it is life altering. Just like when you put a delicious piece of moist, sweet, velvety smooth chocolate cake into your mouth and you say, "Oh, you have got to try this!!!!" Your taste buds will never be the same! That is what I am talking about! You want to share the "goodness" so others can join you in your place of bliss! Then together you can experience this awesomeness! I want to share in the "Ok, God, what now? What do you want me/us to do now?" There is so much to be done! So I have prayed. And waited. And tried to listen for His next directive. There has to be something to do with all "this stuff" I now know and feel and dream about?

Add to that experience, the year long, marathon deep soul searching I experienced due to the job loss. (He does have a temporary to hopeful permanent job as of now). What a doozy that was! I am wiped out! A whole lotta stuff there...deep stuff, deep places He took me. Good in the end, but a long hard road to travel. Again, the ultimate place he brought me to was life altering. So what do I do with that??? A side note....if you ever need counseling due to job loss, I am your free certified counselor!!!! Again, I have prayed for direction here too. The only thing I have felt Him saying is "Rest". Rest???? Really??? If you know me, I don't rest all! In fact, that is quite torturous for me really. With all this new found knowledge, experience, love, etc you want me to "rest"??? Surely you have other plans for me now?

 Yet He brings Martha and Mary to my mind and heart. Martha, bless her heart, was so busy "doing" and got annoyed with her sister Mary for just sitting at Jesus feet.
 "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me?" Ok, just call me Martha. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:40-42  Deep inside, I think I do just want/need to sit at His feet with my head in His lap experiencing Him, and His love and His grace. I envision myself there with Him stroking my hair and I am at peace...and it is ok.... to just be there without "doing". It goes against my make-up, but it sounds so very good!

Then I read  some really great devotions by Oswald Chambers lately that sum up my experience.

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.
We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.
I think I had some real "mountaintop" experiences over the last year and I truly did not want to leave those mountaintops where He was! But it looks like I must:
After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him.
So for now I will sit at my Savior's the valley. Quietly. With gratitude. And rest. Like Mary. I will try to put my "Martha" tendencies aside. I will try to curb my desire to "do more". I will come down off the mountaintops of last year and just rest. And be refreshed. I would imagine there is something I will do with these experiences, but I will let Him lead me there in His time. After all, Jesus gave us permission to stop doing when He said, "Mary has chosen what is better..." Music to my weary ears and humbled heart!

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