January 2

January 2

“And there was an enlarging, and a winding about still upward to the side chambers: for the winding about of the house went still upward round about the house: therefore the breadth of the house was still upward, and so increased from the lowest chamber to the highest by the midst.” Ezekiel 41:7 | KJV

“Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, what blessedness we should find if we would move to the uplands of God.” (Streams in the Desert)

It is a good thing we don’t know the outcome before beginning; most wouldn’t have courage enough to initiate the climb. This life is anything but a cakewalk for the vast majority, meaning perseverance trumps giftedness. It is likely that the preacher had this in mind when he quipped:

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 | NRSV).

The mystery of the hills is deciphered in the climb. While most enjoy occasional triumphs along the way, much of life is spent clambering upward through the mundane. As a younger man I eschewed anything that smacked of ordinariness; in my latter triad of life I am discovering that God rests in the people and experiences easily taken for granted. The everydayness of our existence will never enjoy good press, simply because it is so, for lack of a better word, common. You must grant yourself permission to discern grace in the commonplace. This is more than stopping to smell the roses. It is reveling in the rose’s glory and, more importantly, finding delight in its Creator who designed such beauty for our enjoyment. Make today an experiment that may change your life: Look hard to detect meaning in the most mundane aspects of your day, and then voice praise to your Heavenly Father for granting that moment or person or trial for your benefit. If Scripture is true in stating that God gives good gifts to his children, this day is replete with gifts waiting to be unwrapped by the discerning heart. In order to scale the summit, do yourself a favor as Brother Lawrence did, and practice the presence of God by establishing an altar in your heart that turns each moment into fuel for red hot passion for Holy God. In so doing, you will discover not only joy for the journey, but endurance needed to finish well.

“Too low they build who build beneath the stars.”

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