Process Mountain

“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.




Community is Crucial

Defining moments. Seven years ago today I received the call that my Mom had taken her life. Although grief doesn’t shackle me as it once did, sadness rose to the surface of my heart as I remembered. One simple but striking question from a dear friend allowed me release of that sadness, How is your heart today? I received God’s comfort through my tears and reflected on how my missing Mom is different now and how that time seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. I miss not being able to share all the moments, like events in my children’s lives and how I am at home writing now, those things that we talked about together. I miss the community of family, she was a big tie for us communicating and seeing each other more, even if it was in crisis.  I miss not being able to have a redo in some areas of our relationship now that I know the things I do now. I see also how some things have changed from deep pain to guilt to regret to man I wish we could…All a process of healing.

I have a picture in my home that says, Cherish every moment because it will never come again. Cherish – care for something deeply, treasure it. It is easy to say to others especially when you have experienced any loss or anything difficult in life and you wish you could retrieve some moments back in time.  My thoughts this past week have been who do I have to cherish those moments with and who do I have when the defining moments come that knock me down and take my breath away, wondering how I will breathe normally again.

As always when God is showing me something, it has to come at me in several forms to get through my head and into my heart. All I have been reading and watching has a theme about community. It is crucial to have a small group of people in your life who will fight for your heart. Jesus did it with the 12 disciples and even more intimately with Peter, James and John. We can have a community of believers at church but devotion stems out of small units just like in a family. John Eldredge says it this way in Waking the Dead, “It is knowing you are at war, that God has chosen you and evil is hunting you and a fellowship protects you.”

Do I want to acknowledge that there is evil in this world? Not necessarily but it is the truth. Bad things do happen to good people as they say. Can community be hard and messy? You bet it can, it will reveal the places in me that have yet to become holy. Conversely can community be a lifeline. Absolutely, it has saved my life and heart many times in this lifetime. The devil doesn’t come just to play games with us. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Community is one thing God has given us so that we have intimate allies when life happens.

Our church has always encouraged the idea to get into a small group and do life together, in fact, the church began from a lifegroup. I become more and more sold out to this idea all the time. Wade and I have been hosting groups through the span of our time there and even though the initial step may have been partly from a feeling of obligation and wondering if that is what God was calling us to do, our obedience has led us into relationships where we breathe life, receive it and are able to blow it out wherever we are. Our pastor taught on the weekend that since the 80’s there is a 40% drop in people caring about others. He said the lack of compassion has a direct correlation to the increase in social media. (See the link to the full teaching below) Receiving likes and lack of personal interaction make it easier not to care. This is a frightening phenomenon to me, I don’t know if that speaks to anyone else but likes on my posts will not feed my heart, I may get the quick release of dopamine from the pleasure of it but that leaves just as quickly. We can’t act on compassion if we don’t interact with others.

How did I get from my Mom’s suicide to social media you ask? My mom isolated a lot during the last years of her life and I often wonder had she been in community with those who knew her heart and could breathe life into it, would we be missing her today? As Pastor Craig says compassion interrupts us and it costs us but it also changes lives. Often we don’t see our hearts as they really are for different reasons and we need people around to remind us that our hearts are good, to laugh with us, to celebrate with us,to pray for us, to cry with us and to just be silent with us. Take the first step, find a person, find a group, come to church. Let’s be messy together.

Waking the Dead – John Eldredge

Come to church with me, 1625 Montreal St. Regina