High Places

Colorado 2009 Top of ElbertGood Morning Brothers…

One of the things I look forward to every year is going to the mountains. I love the deep forests, the winding game trails, the streams of water from melting ice, the haphazard placement of large rocks, the fallen trees crisscrossed overhead in the canopy…and the views from the high places. As much as I love the topography and environment of the mountains, my motivation to get ready physically, to journey there, lessens every year. Somewhere within the recesses of my brain, I have a disconnect between preparation and actually being there. By the Lord’s blessing, I have been to many different mountain ranges and have never been unable to go where I intended to go…until last summer. The picture above is from the peak of Mt. Elbert in Colorado. Mt. Elbert is 14,440 feet above sea level and is the second highest peak in the United States. Obviously, I didn’t take this picture because my body…for the first time…told me to turn around. As they say, “The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.”

Even today, I’m struggling with the motivation to get in shape, in preparation, for a trip to the mountains of Montana this spring. I can’t explain it…it just is. I cannot kindle the fire that motivates me to diet and exercise. It’s just not there. No amount of health warnings and encouragement from friends seem to help. Somehow…this reality came to mind when I was reading through 1 and 2 Kings. I noticed a pattern in the manner the different Kings were described. They seem to be broken down into three different categories:

  • they did evil
  • they did right
  • they did right…kind of

For example, in 2 Kings 15:18 it says, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.”

This is a reoccurring description of many of the Kings. Jeroboam was a particular evil King. Once he became King, he changed the way the people worshiped. He instituted new festivals and observances and departed from the instructions of Mosaic Law given by God. He even appointed his own priests to preside once the Levitical priests objected to this counterfeit form of worship. Jeroboam commissioned golden idols to be built and erected shrines and alters in the high places in which incense and blood sacrifices were offered. His judgement was fierce, because he caused the people of Israel to sin. Many of the evil Kings to follow are referenced back to Jeroboam because of their influence over others…causing them to sin.

Another example is this from 2 Kings 18:3-4, “He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.”

These Kings came in and cleaned house. They destroyed the counterfeit worship centers like the high places and removed and burned the Asherah, which is a wooden symbol of a female deity. They would brake apart the alters to Baal (a false god) and often times put to death all of the priests which practiced Baal worship. In other words, they were serious about their worship of the Lord God and carried that out in their words, actions, and deeds.

Our last example can be found in 2 Kings 14:3-4, “He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” 

These are the Kings that did right in the sight of the Lord…except…they did not reform the worship of the people completely back to God’s original instructions. Their faith was more of a personal faith, a “live and let live” kind of faith. I can’t help but wonder if their spirit was willing to take on the idol worship around them, but for whatever reason, their flesh was weak.

What does it mean when we reach down inside and find…nothing? When our spirit is compelling us to move…and we move not? When our head contrives and formulates plans…but our feet disobey? Is this a lack of faith, or a lack of spirit, or simply just a lack of action? What is the root of the disconnect between our conviction and our lack of motivation? The inner psychologist in me can think of all kind of words to insert here:

  • fear
  • anxiety
  • laziness
  • rebellion
  • envy

Whatever the root, I know of only one way to combat this. Pray…pray that the good Lord would take the knowledge and conviction to act that is in our heads…and turn it into fuel for the heart. As we strive to love and serve the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength…the disconnect needs bridged by motivation that can only come from heaven above. The “bridge of motivation” is sustained through the super-natural to act in the natural. To be “in the world” but not “of the world” is to burn fuel not of this world. This fuel is pure, untainted by this world. It will connect the head to the heart and the plan to the act. It is unfiltered Spirit.

I am praying for the “bridge of motivation” in my quest to continue to visit the high places. In contrast to the high places mentioned in 1 and 2 Kings, the high places I seek, while “in the world”, seem to contain no elements “of the world.” They are exclusive, beautiful, pure, and reached only by those who demonstrate commitment, perseverance, and preparation. I realize that my faith in my God, is not only about the mountain top…it is about getting there. I can’t help but wonder what my epithet would say:

  • He did right in the sight of God

Or…

  • He did right in the sight of God…kind of

Pray…brothers, lets find our knees today.

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One Response to High Places

  1. Kevin says:

    Thanks, John. Exactly what I needed today. I have this burning desire to get to the mountains. For me, it is where discipline and passion unite; a place where I can passionately pursue God without hindrance. Don’t get me wrong, we can and should do this anywhere, but there is just something about the mountains. By the way, I think I recognize that picture. 🙂

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