There is a pattern that I find when I read stories of biblical heroes who have accomplished great feats. Elijah was an outstanding prophet whose exploits inspires and challenges us. I like to think if God could do those things in and through him, there is precedent to believe He can do miraculous things in my life as well. Here’s the pattern I see. Most mountain top experiences are often followed by time spent in the valley. Interestingly, it is not usually on the mountain that we discover how strong we really are, but in the valley.
It’s been a few weeks since I returned from a mission trip to Albania. I went as part of a team from Mpower – a ministry training college I teach and mentor at. We spent the time serving A2B, a charity doing amazing work among poor and disadvantaged people of all ages. We saw God at work in so many different ways and it is safe to say we were every bit as blessed as the people we went to serve. On one of the evenings, I taught about leadership and following the nudge of the Holy Spirit, ended the meeting with what I can only describe as a mini-healing service. It was a mountain-top experience for me.
In chapter 18 of 1 Kings, Elijah has just challenged 450 prophets of Baal to what was literally a fire contest. He wins the contest in a dramatic fashion. He doesn’t stop there. His prayer also ends a three-year famine in Samaria. So great is this feat it is mentioned in James as an example of just how much dynamite power the prayer of a righteous person can unleash. If there ever was a mountain-top experience, this was it! It even took place on a literal mountain – Mount Carmel.
Fast-forward to the next chapter and a fearful Elijah is running for dear life. He faces one of the lowest points of his ministry and is about to give up until God intervenes. While my mountain-top experience pales in comparison to Elijah’s, it was followed by a period of intense pressure where it felt like everything that could go wrong did. Like Elijah, I was tempted to quit everything I was involved in – everything especially the things that had the potential to have God’s kingdom break out in. One of the thoughts I entertained more than once was “perhaps going on mission was not such a great idea after all”.
But the one thing you and I must never give in to is fear. This is the enemy’s tactics. To make us so afraid of the possible repercussions of stepping out in obedience to God that we cower in fear. The recent terrorist attacks have had fear at its roots. One weapon the enemy uses so effectively is fear. If he can get us to accept the fear he offers, then he can stop us from doing anything that counts for eternity. I knew that the assaults I experienced after Albania were a direct attack from the enemy. The aim – instil fear.
That’s why our fight against fear must be unequivocal and sustained. We must never allow fear take up even the smallest space in our thinking. And the only way I know to fight a victorious battle against fear is to embrace God’s extravagant love with faith. The apostle John tells us that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). If anyone had a revelation of the love of Jesus, John did. The more I think about and appropriate Jesus’ love for me, the less I am afraid. It is my faith in this perfect love that assures me He has always got my back. Always.
His love assures me that His angels are encamped around me, keeping me safe.
His love reminds me that even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I mustn’t fear any evil.
Or that when I pass through the waters, I will not be overwhelmed.
His love protects my destiny so that ultimately only His plan for me will prevail.
His love comforts me like nothing and no one else ever could.
But I must be willing to exchange my fear for His perfect love.
I must have more faith in His love for me than in any fear I might feel. And I must stock up on this faith during a mountain-top experience in preparation for the pit stop in the valley that might follow.
Only then can you and I thrive in the valley, while looking forward to the next mountain. Without a doubt there will be more mountains to conquer. Without fear.
In His love,