"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cave Challenge...

Insolence affected generations
The Path on "Oracle" Mountain took an unexpected turn, leaving Malachi to retrace the historical portrait of his audience.

This excursion led me to discover an uncanny resting place among the dense mountain foliage. Conspicuously hidden from sight, a large den housed a terrified young man named Gideon, threshing a small amount of grain he shook from a meager bundle.
Contemplating his plight, I realized his story might be common in many younger hikers today. His childhood was etched with warrior stories of great heroes and glorious victories. He knew of the terrifying, yet victorious wanderings his people had experienced years ago when they followed their God's guidance. He spoke of their lessons toward faith under their mighty God's protection, peace, and provision along their trails.

But to this poor young man, those stories were history and not reality for him. There was obviously something missing in Gideon's demeanor. Courage sketched his stories, but he was disguising fear behind a shadow of timidity. His constant glances nervously darted toward the cave's opening, stretching his gaze beyond to scan the valley. His meager possessions displayed poverty, and the small basket of grain exposed a lack in harvest.

Valiant victory possible 
In spite of a victorious history, a sad synopsis ruled the travelers of his stories. They had rejected God's Way, erecting superficial paths of their own choosing. Their shortcut trails led into enemy camps, capturing many with deep pitfalls and defeat for their families. Relationships built on trust and safety were replaced by trickery and deceit. Their choices resulted in bondage, but worse, as seen in Gideon, they forged confusion, fear, and doubt in younger generations who were also conquered by their own personal fears and wrong choices.

For seven years of Gideon's life, the enemy encamped against them in the valley. Like an army of locust, they would ascend the mountain slopes, destroying anything in their wake, and making a clean sweep of homes and gardens. All possibility of harvest or retaliation were squelched immediately. The younger men knew only obstacles and personal defeat, remaining stagnant in faith, fearful and hiding in caves along the mountain range. Their future was bleak, outlined by hunger and doom.

My heart admitted silently some of these same spiritual conflicts of fear versus courage, but before I left this dejected scene of Judges, the Guide visited Gideon's dark cave and changed his future. The Guide declared this young man's potential as "a mighty man of valor", promising His own strength would be provided for success. At first, Gideon was very apprehensive and questioned the obstacles his people had already experienced. He asked permission to solidify his assurance before he left the safety of the den. The Gentle Guide bent low and deposited a little moisture exactly where Gideon requested. This expression of grace enlightened my understanding the awesome power of God's Presence.

Gideon realized spiritual disobedience in his family as the lack of power and confronted it by destroying the erected false gods. Then, he faced off with the enemy. Observing his victories encouraged me on my own mountainous trek. Through faith, my potential and strength are derived from this same mighty Guide. I've known joy in His Presence. His power sustains me, and each spiritual victory galvanizes my faith, embracing me in His intimate love.

Challenge to pray & encourage youth
Also, considering Gideon's potential and his victories, caused me to take a serious look at young people on their spiritual treks with this Guide. Old stories may intrigue the youth today, but they also need encouragement to focus on the Guide and keep climbing vertical.
I thought of possible paths of encouragement in which I could involve our small group. We resolved to include them in some of our climbs, allowing them to experience awesome victories and stake their own claims. Through our examples, we hope they learn to consistently hear and follow the Guide. We realize their obstacles and enemies may differ from the ones we face, but by being aware of their needs, we can encourage whenever possible.

One day, we'll stand together on the victorious summit, but until our hiking is done, we learn by the laurels of past stories. Our own tales can demonstrate how doubts and fears are defeated by a fresh claim of the Guide's Presence. He leads us forward and upward, commanding us to pray for 'each other', but also spur 'each other' for a good climb!

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