Saturday, June 19, 2010

On skinned knees and valleys...

When I was little, my father bought me a bicycle. It was a boy's bike and it was black and it was the coolest bike in the neighborhood. So cool, in fact, that the little boys in the neighborhood would trade me baseball cards and cinnamon toast for a chance to ride it. My father likes to tell the story that when he was teaching me to ride the bike, that I would fall off and skin my knees and CRY and CRY. But that I would get back on still crying, until I learned to ride that bike.

I think somewhere between Monday - Thursday this last week, I fell off my bike, so to speak. I took my eyes off Jesus for a moment and started to sink. I started to look at this nightmare scenario job as my destination, instead of my instruction in righteousness. I stopped being able to see the spiritual lessons I was learning, and stopped being able to love the people who come to my counter and accuse me of plotting to give them a bad room out of spite, instead of trying to help meet their needs. My bad habit of protecting myself against verbal onslaughts, instead of using my shield of faith - out did me once again.

The Lord gently reminded me that I do not work for my boss who was raised in Communist China, but that I work for Him. I'm not working this job because I need the money, (the Lord will provide whatever I require), but that I was placed here to help these people, by prayer and intercession and spiritual warfare. But most of all, the Lord is teaching me, that my focus needs to be off myself (death to self). A very very hard lesson for me, which makes me hate the flesh that much more.

I did not recognize this at first of course. It didn't become apparant to me until I read Michael Boldea's recent post entitled: Life in the Valley part 2 which I highly recommend reading the whole article, but these are some quotes that specifically spoke to my heart.
"Yes, God’s desire is that we always be on the mountaintop, always on fire for Him, always wholly devoted and committed to His work and His kingdom, but God also knew that there would be valleys throughout our journey, He knew that there would be times where we would feel as though we were of no use to the kingdom, of no use to the brethren, times and seasons of hardship and setbacks. We serve an all knowing God, one who knows the end from the beginning, and knowing that we would have to traverse valleys once in awhile, He has placed encouragement, instruction, and direction in His holy word for us, that although we might find ourselves in the valley, we would endeavor to return to the mountaintop.

Today we go even further into this series of teachings, and tackle the topic of warfare in the valley. Yes, there is warfare in the valley; there is violent and unyielding warfare in the valley. I realize you may be thinking, ‘Brother Mike, but there is warfare in perpetuity. We are always at war with the enemy whether in the valley or on the mountaintop aren’t we?’ Yes, we are constantly at war with the enemy, but it’s one thing to fight the enemy on open ground when you are full of vigor and strength, when all of your energies are at maximum levels and you know the terrain, and it’s quite another to do battle against the enemy in the valley, where you are already weak and troubled, where the territory is unknown and the walls seem to be closing in."
He went on to write:
"You see, there are two very important things the enemy wants to take away from you while you are in the valley. The two things the enemy desires to nullify in you while you are in the valley is your identity, and your mentality, your attitude, your outlook or your way of thinking. The enemy’s singular desire is for you to forget that you are a child of God, to forget what your attributes are, to forget the power that you have access to in the Holy Spirit, and to forget that God is omnipotent. He wants to nullify this burning truth in your heart that you are royalty, a child of the most high God, redeemed by the blood of His beloved Son Jesus Christ."

I am actually living in a valley at the moment. The Willamette valley. I live on Willamette street in Willamette valley and I work at the (Best Western) Willamette Inn. Local legend states that the Indian meaning of the word Willamette is "the valley of sickness and death." (For more on the word willamette see here and here.)

This journey started out with the theme of "The view from a high mountain". In fact, there was a very inspired teaching from Pastor David J. Meyer that I listened to several times entitled: "The View from the Mountain Top" that I think you should all listen to if you have a chance. The thing about valley's is, the mountaintop looks much higher from the bottom of the valley than it does on regular ground. On any journey there will be valleys, but I am not alone.
[[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23

P.S. the thing about falling off your bike, is to get right back on again. Talk to you soon!

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