Far Greater

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

For the past few years our family has chosen the first week in January to gather together and share our “Word for the Year.” I picked “adventure” this time. God took me up on it and has allowed me to celebrate the wonder of life in more ways than I ever thought possible. Let me share a few of these so you can picture some of what he’s allowed me to experience.

On our pilgrimage to Israel with our church in February we visited Masada, the mountain fortress near the Dead Sea. Rather than ride in the comfortable enclosure of the gondola that zips to the top in no time flat, I hiked up the rugged, steep incline instead. Gasping for air was part of this adventure, but heart-enlarged joy became the far richer benefit.

Later with our CityLead team in Dubai, we drove through the Arabian Desert in a dune buggy, our faces camouflaged by scarves for protection against the blazing sun and pelting grains of sand.

On a hike through the Swiss Alps in June, Bill and I encountered a herd of black-nosed sheep blocking our path. We held our breath and carefully inched our way past their curious faces. The next day I dashed across a patch of snow and jumped off a 10,000 foot high cliff adjacent to the peak of the Matterhorn, paragliding across the spectacular valley of Zermat. Without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had!

I traveled to California and taught on Mother’s Day to a vibrant congregation in West Lake, California. Bill and I flew to Ghana in August, ministered with exceptional leaders in Accra, and visited the horrific El Mina castle where slaves were placed in vile dungeons before being shipped to the New World through the “Door of No Return.” Few things are as sobering as that.

Lebanon was our next stop, where we taught discipleship principles and practices to dedicated pastors from all across the Middle East. A busload of us drove to the Maasser Cedar Forest and walked beneath the shade of gigantic trees that were over 3,000 years old. We stood next to one believed to have been growing there when Solomon sent his envoy to bring back timber for the temple!

What’s the point of sharing all this with you? No matter where God leads us, what doors he opens or shuts, whether our days unfold simply or with complications, I believe God wants us to be willing to take risks for the cause of his kingdom. He asks us not to coast, not to back down or play it safe. He wants us to say, “Sure” when presented with his next big ask.

What do I mean? On a hike in North Carolina many years ago, Bill would occasionally ask if our group was willing to trying a new path, go a different way, walk further than we had originally planned. On each occasion I responded by saying, “Sure.”

Finally, one of the other ladies turned to me and said, “You certainly say sure a lot.”

I was surprised by her comment since I hadn’t realized I had even been using that phrase. But why wouldn’t I agree to what Bill was suggesting? We had been married then for close to 35 years. I knew I could trust Bill implicitly. He had kept every promise he made to me. His word was his bond. He had only done me good from the moment I met him all those years ago.

There was nothing in his character to make me doubt his intentions or his ability to follow through and complete whatever journey we had begun. In addition to all of that, Bill has a perfect sense of direction. He rarely, if ever, gets lost. Following him had always been a wise choice. Saying “sure” to his suggestions had always been a good idea.

In a much broader way, saying “sure” to God’s directions comes with far greater guarantees. God has always been absolutely trustworthy. He has never broken a promise or abandoned us on a dangerous path. Our Father in Heaven has and always will be the perfect one to follow, to imitate, to listen to, and to obey even when the trail is rugged, the journey unpredictable, and the way forward a bit messy as well.

We need to ask ourselves what comfortable, safe thinking we are clutching so tightly in our grasp that is sending the message that we are not ready for God to place something far greater in our hands?

The strong promises woven through this passage of Deuteronomy 1:30-31 is for all of us. Let every word sink in and reinvigorate your heart and help you to say “sure” the next time God presents you with an adventure ahead.

“The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.”

Elizabeth A Mitchell

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