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Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19
I want to talk to you for a few minutes about mountain climbing. For several years now, I have had a fascination with the subject and read many real-life stories about people who climb mountains, especially the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. I have studied maps of the routes up Mount Everest, learned about the effects of high altitude on the human body, and read stories of devastating disasters on the mountain. The Lord recently used this interest of mine to give me an image that spoke directly into my heart about marriage restoration.
Recently, my prodigal husband asked me to come back to our home province with the kids to rent a house with him. Though in some ways, this was the “suddenly” I’d prayed for and expected, it was not an easy decision as there was no repentance or heart change on his behalf, and I was wary about exposing my children to more conflict.
On top of that, I’d been through the darkest year yet in my stand, having suffered two miscarriages along with other deep hurts in my marriage. Just when I thought I couldn’t bear any more, another wave would come along to knock me over, and at the end of it, I experienced a total absence of God’s presence with me, which was devastating. It was all I could do to keep walking forward, keep making meals for my children and showing them love. Every step felt laborious.
“My spirit is broken…My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart. Job 17:1a, 11 (paraphrased)
I prayed and fasted, as did others on my behalf, and asked for a clear sign as to what to do. The Lord did not give me a sign. He gave me an image. He showed me that my stand was like climbing Mount Everest. When mountaineers climb Everest, they establish camps high up on the mountain at increasing altitude, to allow their bodies the ability to adjust to the lack of oxygen. Above Camp IV, a person enters what is called “the death zone,” 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level. The summit of Everest is 8,848 meters (29,029 ft). At this altitude, the human body is literally dying by the minute, so a person must get to the summit and back down as quickly as possible.
I left the safety of base camp the day that I began my stand. As I climbed the mountain, I reached various “camps” along the way – times when there was breakthrough, but also false starts. I would climb a certain distance, and then have to retreat, before being equipped to climb still higher the next time. The Lord showed me that, like climbing Mount Everest, my stand had gotten progressively more difficult and the last several months I had been in a spiritual “death zone.” This was deeply reassuring to me because I knew in my heart that I was not off track. This was indeed the path my Lord had called me to. It was hard. And the summit was so close!
I took a leap of faith and moved home. The summit was glorious yet anti-climactic. I gave a testimony in church shortly after and that is the day I am calling “summit day” because it is when God allowed me to see what He was doing in our lives. What is amazing is that “summit day” is exactly three years to the day that I began my stand. For the first 30 days, the Lord filled me to overflowing with His Spirit and enabled me to be a Titus 2 wife:
…the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)
It is truly a miracle. The Lord has done such a change in me and allowed me to see with clarity and purity the needs of my husband and children, to zip my lips and be a peacemaker. And the demons that my husband struggles with are bound in Jesus’ name, still very much present, but lacking in power to destroy.
Yet the journey is far from over. The goal in climbing Everest isn’t to reach the summit, but to summit and get back to base camp safely. Many climbers perish on the descent because they have spent all their resources and grow weary. For me, the way down has become stormy, but as Oswald Chambers says: “A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting.”
Yes, I am tempted to sit down in the snow and go to sleep, or else to walk off the mountain entirely. But I keep walking forward, slow and steady down the mountain. My heart is well guarded – it has suffered a severe case of frostbite and it is hard to feel much at all, but the Lord will take care of that and heal me when it is safe and right to do so. He is guiding me down the mountain and will bring me back safely to base camp. I pray He will do the same for you.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
Trusting in Him,
Kim in Canada