Monday, December 6, 2010

The Call to the High Places

Especially for the Unmarried (Warning, this is long but if your ready, it is REALLY good)
The Call to the High Places
By Natalie Marie Nyquist
Jan 4, 2005 - 8:12:00 PM

The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength…He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. ~ Psalm 18:30-33

“Lord! Why are all the girls my age falling in love and getting married (or so it feels), and I have no one? How can I survive this painful thing called singleness, especially when so many friends are getting married?” Every girl cries these words at some point; most of us must face them again…and again…and again. How do I best live this unasked-for life of singleness? Granted, this season seems bearable and even grows pleasant for a while—until another wedding invitation comes in the mail or another friend emails the joyous news that she is courting. Familiar panic and frustration squeeze in our throats, and we feel like emptying the house of anything that hints of marriage, family, romance, love, or happiness. Anything that will mock our own state of lacking (seemingly) all of these treasures.

As young women, our longing for romance and marriage is a desire at the core of our beings. This hope is part of the foundation of our identity as women; thus the wrestling we face when we are told to be content as singles or to “put our emotions to sleep” can be overpowering. The answer I have discovered is simple, yet so profound that I can barely scratch the surface of its truth, even in a full-length book. It lies in keeping our eyes fixed on something higher than earthly romance: the High Places. Just what are the High Places, you might ask?

The High Places. Was it the desire for a strong hand to hold mine and share this timeless moment? Yes, if I listened to the message whispered from every side. Everything is sweeter when you are with your boyfriend, husband, special friend, you fill in the blank. Without him, all is loneliness and melancholy. With him, all life turns into a passionate intoxication of delight. From secular love songs to Christian novels, the climax of a woman’s life always comes when she is finally with her man. Sound familiar? Perhaps it does, not only because it is touted in our culture, but because a similar cry echoes from inside us.

What is this thing that draws us? That will not allow us to remain content in the valley our entire life? This tug women feel cannot be captured in mere words, nor confined even within the vast reaches of our own hearts. It is what I refer to as the call to the High Places. Not to a man, romance, or marriage, which the world magnifies as the ultimate goal: but to our Father’s High Places. What we translate as a girlish longing for romance runs far deeper. Our Lord, the mighty and loving King of Kings, calls us to come with Him to a life the world will never understand. He has a much higher purpose for our lives than we could ever imagine (Eph. 3:20).

The only desire that can carry us through the hard times ahead stems from a love for our Lord. We want to go to the High Places because He is there. We want to follow Him. Anything short of this commitment will soon weaken under the rigors of our journey. If we set out hoping marriage will be a nice bonus to the equation, we’re preparing for dissatisfaction and disappointment. A loyal, committed love for our Lord that is faithful even when feelings rebel: this is what can keep our eyes fixed on our goal.

A desire to trace the footsteps of our Father is not enough if there is no commitment. It will sometimes be easier to stay where life is predictable and comfortable. The High Places held a holy wonder that sparked terror deep in my heart. In the core of my being echoed a question unbidden, which I was incapable of answering: “Do I really want to go there? Do I really want to be laid bare before this Holy God in all His majesty?”

Most of all, a fear hovered at the back of my mind holding me back from action. “What if God does not give me what I really want?” It sounds foolish when spelled out in black and white, but that does not invalidate its grip on me. How about you?

In Hannah Hurnard’s allegory, the shepherdess Much-Afraid earnestly wanted to go to the High Places, but she also battled fear:

“I am afraid,” she said. “I have been told that if you really love someone you give that loved one the power to hurt and pain you in a way nothing else can.”
“That is true,” agreed the Shepherd. “To love does mean to put your self into the power of the loved one and to become very vulnerable to pain, and you are very much-afraid of pain, are you not?”

Oh, not pain! The thought makes us shrink inwardly, tension making our body rigid as we brace ourselves to face the dreaded monster of pain. Haven’t we had enough? Why is God allowing so much suffering in our lives? It is a paradox I cannot understand, but I accept its truth because I trust the One who told me: pain is a necessary step to growth and maturity. We cannot reach the High Places without sacrifice. Accepting that fact now and not hoping to somehow find the invisible path around pain will give you a head start on this journey. Yet these fears will not surrender their hold willingly. We dread giving up our treasured dreams to the Lord, because…what if He takes them away? How can we bear to give up something so close to our heart? To do so would rip a gaping wound, and pain is to be avoided at all costs—right?

Dare we trust our Father to faithfully provide for us? Are we willing to give up the dreams for marriage and romance and allow Him to do with them as He chooses? Are we committed to seeking the High Places even if it becomes clear that our journey will not include the firm grip of a prince’s hand to help us over the tough spots? Is our passion for God’s glory strong enough to withstand the screaming of emotions?

Oh, to be able to echo the words of Much-Afraid and say to Him, “In all the world I have no one but You. Help me to follow You, even though it seems impossible. Help me to trust You as much as I long to love You.”

God knows that we are weak. We do not love Him even the smallest percent of what we should, nor do we give Him half of the devotion He deserves. Yet no matter where we are on the path, God simply offers His hand to us. “You love me only this much?” He asks. “Well, then I will give you the strength to love Me just a little bit more today, and a little bit more the day after that, until you are so full of love for Me that there is no room for anything else.”

If only our own fairy tale promised a beautiful ending. Right now we do not know if our knight will ever come. Sometimes we would prefer not to have so many reminders of that fact, yet the same fairy tale is echoed over and over wherever we look. And it draws us…something in its nature draws us to sit before the story yet again as our minds ask God again: “Will I ever have this?” We feel an ache inside that only increases as we feel the beauty and power of the story.

A lovely young princess is captured by the evil adversary of her kingdom and taken to the villain’s fortress, where any hope of rescue or help is seems futile. This maiden is very beautiful, with curls that tumble to her waist and captivating eyes the color of a summer sky. Her purity and virtue are known throughout the land. A young warrior loves this maiden with all his heart and is willing to sacrifice his life if it means she can be set free. He fights through unspeakable difficulties with amazing courage and chivalry until at last he conquers the evil and rescues his princess. With a tender look and kiss upon her dainty hand, he lifts her onto his horse, and they gallop into the sunset. Returning to their kingdom amidst great rejoicing, they are married and live happily ever after.

While the world wishes us to attempt to fill that hole in our heart with wild adventures and passionate romance, God says that these things are merely a symbol of a deeper reality. They are a signpost, pointing the way to the ultimate relationship that brings fullness of joy and pleasures forever! Is this not what we really seek in the dreams for our own fairy tale?

Psalm 20:4 exclaims, “May He grant you your heart’s desire!” In the next chapter it says, “Thou hast given him his heart’s desire and Thou hast not withheld the request of his lips” (verse 2). God has put these yearnings in us not to frustrate us, but for His sovereign purpose--a purpose that goes beyond what we can comprehend in our limited vision. Despite what the world would have us believe, those fairy tales are not the ultimate goal. The story may end with the couple living happily ever after, but real life continues and something deeper and stronger than these must be our highest focus. If we keep them in their place, fairy tales and their real-life parallels can be a beautiful, fulfilling part of life. Pushed onto a pedestal they were never meant to occupy, their worth is twisted and distorted.

Most of us have been guilty of clinging to something, whether it is an attraction to some young man, a fascination with romance itself, or a dangerous emotional attachment. We cannot know true love for anyone or anything until we let that thing go utterly, completely, and forever into the hands of our Father. Not on the condition that our true love will then appear on our doorstep, but because it is the only path to true peace.

The Lord has created us to be young women with all the intricacy and complexity that entails, yet He also governs the expression and use of these feminine gifts. This is the goal of our journey to the High Places: to first understand ourselves and our desires, then to live a lifestyle pleasing to the Lord that brings complete satisfaction and fulfillment. The soul sigh must be surrendered and our grasping hands loose their hold on the things that will not fill our void. God did not plant this need inside to be satisfied with anything less than Himself and His best.
A verse I've often repeated to myself was the last half of Job 1:21: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” If Job could praise the Lord with confidence in the midst of his trials which were so vastly greater and more difficult than mine…then I must praise Him in the small annoyances and heartaches He graciously allows.

Knowing God is the greatest adventure of all time: a life-long pursuit, the ultimate romance, the fulfillment of every yearning. Apart from this relationship life is a mere shadow of its full potential. Remembering that even life at its best is only a dim reflection of Heaven proves that we have a wonderful future to anticipate. Be encouraged! It is far too easy to get bogged down in all the emotional confusion of guy-girl relationships and unfulfilled longings. At the end of the day we must come back to the same simple truth and accept it without conditions or reservations. Our lives are in the loving and capable hands of the Father. Our quest is to seek Him and follow Him to the High Places by whatever paths He chooses. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).

No comments:

Post a Comment