High Places

Back in the Old Testament we hear of things called “high places,” these were places, usually located on a higher elevation, that were alters used to offer sacrifices to pagan gods. They were a big problem for those in Israel and Judah, and are mentioned over 115 times, that’s significant. At first even the early patriarchs – such as Abram, and Jacob, established pillars or altars to recognize Yahweh. But, that was before God had His Tabernacle, or the Temple in Jerusalem. When the Israelites enter into the Promised Land, they are commanded to tear down high places, the places where the pagan religions worshipped and sacrificed to their gods. The allowance or tolerance of these places served to be a snare to lure the Israelites away from Yahweh. And snare them they did.

So, what does all of this talk of high places, where the Israelites worshipped and gave themselves over to other gods have to do with us? Well, the actual physical high place locations don’t have anything to do with us. But, metaphorically, we all have high places in our own lives. I contend that each and everyone of us all have at least one thing that we allow to take precedence over our relationship with God. Those things can be physical items such as shopping, our spouse, children, sports, television, career, pursuit of wealth, social media, fashion, beauty, etc. Our specific high places can also be emotional items such anger, resentment, bitterness, bigotry, control, jealously, hate, etc. For some of us the list of those things that take precedence over God could be long.

Over my lifetime, I have developed a whopper of a list of things that have at times come between my relationship with God. I could hang on to a gripe, hurt, or harm inflicted to me by others as intently as an Olympic weightlifter who lifts twice their own body weight. I have experienced a time in my life where the way I felt toward another person can only be described as hatred. I have let myself become so enraged over real or perceived harm done to my emotional state, that I have looked like a raving maniac. I wield impatience as if I was a master swordsman. Not too flattering is it? I’m just keeping it real here.

Some of those, my personal high places, have been resolved, and I’ve moved on. Some, unfortunately, occasionally resurface, although most likely (or hopefully) not to the degree that they existed before. Some, still stubbornly, hang on — or perhaps I should say that I still stubbornly hang onto some. I consciously struggle with the concept of waiting — waiting for things to happen, waiting for those who are slower than me, waiting in the slow checkout line at the store, and most especially waiting on God. It’s safe to say that patience has never been my strong suit.

I’m a person of action, when I think something should happen, well then, I think it should happen right now! And if it doesn’t happen quickly enough for my liking, well then, I am not beyond taking matters into my own hands to make them happen! I think that our society encourages that kind of behavior, be your own boss, take charge! Just look at the ease in which we can get our information with the internet, want to know something, you can find out with a few keystrokes, that’s immediate satisfaction and gratification my friends.

Yet, God tells me that I should wait. The Holy Spirit whispers to my soul to slow down and let God be God — in other words, sometimes my soul hears the words “back off!” God knows at times that I need the harsh message from Him, instead of His gentle whispers. To paraphrase Paul, “What a wretch I am.” Psalm 46:10 is an integral part of my faith life, because it’s so difficult for me to “be still.” And, more recently Psalm 37:5 has surfaced as an application also. God promises that He will act in His timing over and over to us in the Bible, and it’s something that I need to give over to the Lord once and for all. With concentration, determination, practice, and prayer I know that I will be able to breakdown this pesky high place.

But, I can’t do it alone. I need God’s help and the prayers of others too. Will you lift me up in prayer for a gentle victory over the stronghold that particular high place has in my life?

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a, ESV)

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5, ESV)

“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:21-24, ESV)

Note: I am currently re-reading Wendy Pope’s book Wait and See, and I highly recommend it for anyone who suffers from such impatience and desire to take charge of a situation as I do.

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