“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:1-3
What if mountains are just part of the process? This question occurred to me today during a long overdue conversation with my great friend. Helena made the comment that often we are not ready for things to change immediately. We think we are, we expect them to, especially when they are uncomfortable or painful. Often another ‘trip around the mountain’ is needed to prepare us so we are ready for the next thing God has for us. We see that mountain excursion with a negative connotation so often, but God sees with different eyes. As we read in the above verses, He is with them on the trip, Moses was reminding the Israelites to remember how the Lord their God led them all the way in the desert those forty years. So even though He allowed it, He still led them. He did not abandon them, in fact He provided all that they needed to survive.
Today marks the 8th anniversary of my Mom’s death. It was the first time on this date that it was not the first thing I thought of when I awoke. This forgetting was bittersweet to me as I know it is partially due to healing and partially due to not remembering and this includes some of the parts about her. It is so important to talk about our loved ones and keep those memories alive. It is why we celebrate this anniversary with traditions of eating her favorite KFC and reminiscing. I say this because the times after her death were a mountain we circled from circumstances and did I expect for things to change immediately, absolutely. I longed for the pain to be taken away and prayed and railed and even yelled at God in the hurt. If not for me Lord, then please for my family members. But we all had our own journey to take around that mountain and as I look back now at all the ways God led and strengthened and provided what we needed, it was a process mountain, not a deliverance one. Our journeys include hurt and pain in this sin filled world but we are not abandoned.
Just like it is important to remember our loved ones, we need to remember the Lord our God and the things that He has done. “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 8:11-14 Don’t forget where we came from and the process that He took us through in order to get to our healing.
We are part of a grand story that has a bigger picture than the immediate circumstances we face. God knows we are quick to forget His goodness and sovereignty when we face difficulties and yet He is still merciful to us. I have strength in places I never could have made up because of that particular trip around the mountain in the desert. I can speak to places in people that are difficult because of this part of my story. I have more compassion for those that face mental illness and suicide and addiction. I judge less and love more, I fix less and listen more, I weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I love what Darlene Zschech spoke about at the Joyce Meyer conference I attended recently, she said that even though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, remember it is THROUGH the valley and that there is a river of life there and because there is a shadow, we know the Light has to be there to make one.
So don’t forget the One who is with you and who has or will bring you out of the shadows and shine His healing light on you. The process mountain contains different peaks and valleys for each of us but He will restore your soul. “Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” Deuteronomy 8:4 He will care for you and carry your heart in ways you could not even imagine. Decide to trust Him as you walk Through the valley, He is a good, good Father.