Approaching Ascent #19

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November 27, 2021

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

CONSIDER THIS

For the past six months or so, I have been daily walking through Psalm 84. It’s one of the greatest hits of the whole collection. Through the summer a friend and I texted it back and forth, verse by verse, through the day every day. I try to start every day listening to it from the YouVersion app on my phone–as my “First Word.” This is the slow-walking way of rememberizing. There is a movement in the Psalm reminiscent of the Habakkuk text we’ve been engaging. Let’s call it “The Baka Descent.”

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7

The Valley of Baka is also known in the Bible as the valley of tears or weeping. Here’s the fascinating part: They make the place of tears and weeping a place of springs. It sounds like Valley #18 doesn’t it? Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. How does one make the place of tears a place of springs? Even moreso, how in a place of weakness and loss does this next bit happen? 

7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

The groundbreaking secret comes in Habakkuk 3:19, which we shall call “Ascent #19.” 

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

Descent #17: No figs, grapes, olives, grain, sheep, cattle, no health, no wealth, no happy times, fun, vacations, and so forth, designs to untether us from all the strengths that were never really strengths to begin with. 

Valley #18: “Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior.” 

Notice it is a different thing to be joyful for God my Savior, and to be joyful in God my Savior. But watch where this mysterious place of power leads:

Ascent #19: 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

Notice it doesn’t say the Sovereign Lord gives me strength. It says he is my strength. This the difference between Jesus helping us and Jesus having us. This is the whole point of the whole thing, moving from a place of always trying to get Jesus to help us with our plans and purposes for our lives to allowing Jesus to have us for his plans and purposes. It is the difference between laying down the self of our own making and taking up the life for which we were made. 

This is the meaning of the great scriptural saying of all the Saints: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” See Nehemiah 8:10

When the Sovereign Lord is our strength, we are able to go from “strength to strength,” indeed even glory to glory, despite the most difficult trials and tribulations along the way—even because of them. This is why we can “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds.” This is how we know “the testing of our faith produces perseverance,” and why we must “let perseverance finish its work so that we might become mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) 

In the midst of a trial, I really just want relief. Jesus wants deep reformation and restoration. I want help. He wants healing. I want escape. He wants engagement. I want comfort. He wants the conversion of my deepest self into his deepest likeness. 

In short, I want him to give me strength to fight my battles. He insists on He Himself becoming myself and my strength to fight his battles. 

And this is why we must encourage one another daily, as long as it is called TODAY. We are encouraging one another to let go of our old broken self and “put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of our creator.” (Colossians 3:10). 

This is how, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

This is how, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

THE PRAYER

Father, it is overwhelming to consider just how much higher your ways are than our ways and your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It is astonishing to see how this is so perfectly and profoundly demonstrated in your Son, Jesus. It is why we can say with all our hearts, “I just want to know him better and better every single day. Holy Spirit, would you lead me from my endless asking for help and relief and comfort and escape to simply letting Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have me, hold me, heal me, and make me his own possession. For your namesake, Jesus, Amen.  

THE QUESTION

Do you find these teaching more encouraging or more challenging? How do they encourage you? How do they challenge you? What are you contemplating deeply in them? 

P.S. I’ve got a good idea for some CHRISTMAS GIFTS 

We are offering 25% off on everything we have in the Seedbed Seed Barn (aka store) through Monday. And Daily Text Books  are sized perfectly for stockings and gift bags!! hint hint. ;0) 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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