acts of faith · Africa · dreams · revelation · testimony · the comfort couch

come! let’s go up the mountain

This is me, in the Drakensberg mountains of Kwa-Zulu Natal where I grew up as a kid. This shot was taken right at the top of Normandien Pass, which is situated about 25 km from our farm. If you squint effectively, you might be able to spot Newcastle lying somewhere between my feet and the koppie on the right.
My mum took the picture — yes, she has amazing timing skills! 🙂

Isaiah 2:3 [AMP]

“And many people shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”

Over the past two weeks God has been speaking to me about the significance of mountains. I’ve also been sharing my testimony about what I call my “Abraham Encounter” with quite a few people.

On September 30th, 2012 my whole family tracked down to Kwa-Zulu Natal for the celebration of my uncle and aunt’s 25th Wedding Anniversary on their farm, Kendal.

This, for me, was lovely!

I’ve missed out on all the other family-related events this year on account of being abroad on mission trips or having study-related obligations. Furthermore, being a country girl at heart, I absolutely LOVED spending time in the mountains where I grew up as a kid.

I’ll give you a quick summary of the weekend, and everything that I’m trying to process — even as I’m typing this blog-post. But first, a little context!

When my mum phoned me on Friday to find out how far I’ve come in doing my packing, her exact words were “Take a jacket — they’re forecasting 80% chance of rain,” and with good reason! In the mountains the weather can change rapidly — one minute sunshine, and the next: ice-rain! However, when we headed up Normandien Pass on Saturday morning, the sky was cloudless, and besides the frisky berg wind, we enjoyed a beautiful sunshine day!

We were headed toward the waterfall on Luiperdsdal for a picnic, and along the way we stopped to take photos, marvel at Nature and God’s creation, point out famous landmarks to visitors, and have fellowship with friends and family. The trek in itself was, for me, a wonderful experience!

I remember, as a kid, how my sister and I would head into the mountainous veld — barefooted at that — to explore, play, imagine and become quiet in the majesty of nature, only to return home when the dark, or hunger, caught up with us.

Mountains, for me, have always meant Freedom — an exuberant, expressive, untamed freedom — like the wind.

Growing up in Natal — or any other place for that matter — you’ll understand the importance of wind. Come August, it can mean the destruction of entire farms when it spreads an out-of-control veld fire (as it had done upon MULTIPLE accounts, with the loss of livestock, property, and even human lives) or, on the other hand, wind means Spring Rain — vital for healthy crop production.

We moved to Potchesfstroom when I was about 12 years old. This, for me, implied two major adjustments. The first being city-life, as opposed to the freedom of the veld. Secondly — a flat landscape as opposed to the mountainous region of my youth. (I still don’t get why they refer to our neighborhood as The Bult when there’s not even a smallish hill in sight! Haha!)

Hans-Jurie takes in the scenery from a cliff near the log cabin on Luiperdsdal.

Anyhow, before I loose track of what I’m actually heading toward — let me tell you about the spiritual significance of mountainsHere’s what The Prophet’s Dictionary (by Paula Price) has to say about it: 

Prophetically , mountains were symbolic of governments. This belief explains why meetings of high powers, especially governments, are called summits. Mountains in old times where the center of a civilization’s spiritual community. That was where they gathered to be near their deity and experience his or her manifestations. Therefore, mountains quickly became established as the place of immortals, heroes, gods, and prophets as the messengers of the gods, where their communities worshiped and served their national high powers. 

In scripture, especially the Old Testament, we find many examples of the significance of mountains. Examples (as cited in the Prophet’s Dictionary) of these are:

  • Mount Carmel — Properly called Baal Karmela, it refers to the Canaanite-Moabite deity Baal. Mount Carmel was a center of oracular and divinatory prophetics. It is also called the Mount of Divination, and was accepted by Yahweh and His prophets as the center of false prophetics. This is also the mountain where Elijah, God’s prophet, drew four hundred of Baal’s prophets into a contest that ultimately cost them their lives — see 1 Kings 18 for more detail.
  • Mount Horeb — another name for Mount Sinai found in the Sinai dessert. This mountain is where the Israelites camped out en route to Canaan.
  • Mount Moriah — Chosen. Place where Abraham sought to sacrifice Isaac at the word of the Lord in Genesis 22:2.

Mount Moriah is then ultimately what brings me to the story of my Abraham Encounter, but first, as I said — the context.

On Sunday morning, rather than driving the 50+ km to town, we had a church meeting at my family’s home. It was mostly a worship service — one of the family friends accompanied our singing on the keyboard, and in-between anyone who wanted to share, did so. 

Most parts of my family (including extended family, and family’s family) grew up in conservative churches. However, over the last two-to- three years, I’ve really been amazed by the transformation personal relationships with Jesus has brought to their lives — it changes everything!

Isaiah 2:3 [AMP]
“And many people shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”

The above-mentioned church service was one of the most emotional meetings I’ve attended this year.

Crying in front of people, in itself, was a difficult journey for me.  (One that I only came to terms with by 2011 when God planted me smack in the middle of Extension prayer meetings. It was a hard, but beautiful, lesson learnt.)

I’ve always disliked crying in church for two reasons — the first being that I felt exposed and vulnerable, the second (a much more personal one, at that) is that I dislike people handing out hugs or words of comfort at inappropriate times when you’re really just having a special moment with Jesus, and they (for some reason) think you’re the-saddest-person-ever, and in need of their immediate comfort. Yes, this is my sarcasm speaking.

But, on a side note, be aware of what Holy Spirit is doing in such circumstances, and don’t interrupt the moment just because you’re irritated by the person (having the moment) ‘s unending-sniffing-and-sobbing.

Anyhow, for the sake of context, I should mention that my cousin and three of her friends had received news the previous evening that one of their close friends had died in a car accident, and thus, at least half our “church” was already crying by the time worship started.

I met Priscilla roughly three weeks ago — a Nigerian woman living in London. Since then, we have shared quite a bit of testimony with each other via email. I’m constantly amazed by the divine encounters God sets up! But, that’s a story for another time! Anyhow, I shared the story of my Abraham Encounter — the part of my Diamonds journey that I hadn’t mentioned in the earlier blog — with her.

During our family service, I felt that I should share my Abraham Encounter with them too, so I did.

This shot features me, at the edge of the waterfall, with a 25+ meter drop to my left. The water was so cold that I got brain freeze if I kept my feet in it for more than a couple of seconds at at time! My brave cousins, on the other hand, decided the ice water sported the perfect temperature for their first swim of the season.

I’ll be real with you, because this is — after-all — a testimony.

I’d say I’ve faced my fair share of stormy seas over the past month and a half. My sister was admitted to ICU for the third time this year. Furthermore, my father is facing severe financial difficulty, which also affects me — if not financially then at least emotionally and spiritually. My mum, also, has had some trouble at work. And, being a student, I’d lie if I said that completing my final year at university did not bring about academic pressure. Furthermore  I’ve had to make some potentially life-altering decisions regarding my future — life, study, work, etcetera.

To be honest, over the past couple of months I’ve faced many days with absolutely no intention to leave the covers of my bed. In fact, I felt if I didn’t absolutely HAVE to get up, I sure wouldn’t. I think, because of various other external circumstances (not listed above), I found myself in a so-called rut. Or a funk, if you choose to call it that. It’s not like I lost faith in God and His control, but it really just felt like I honestly didn’t have the energy to fight — or to care if I fought or not.

My spiritual family would be able to testify to the fact that this is not like me at all. (And, God bless them, they (knowingly and un-knowingly) encouraged me on multiple accounts during this time.)

I know that many of you have faced similar circumstances. For some, this battle is called “depression”, and for others it’s called “relationships” or “finances” — whatever the case may be. It feels like your foundation is cracking, and even crumbling. Your circumstances might feel overwhelming, and when you look to God for help, you’re not even certain that you can hear His voice anymore. You feel drained and its as if everything you do is a half-hearted effort to maintain appearances.

October last year (2011) I was on a mission trip to Botswana with my close friend Valeska, our pastor and his wife. During this time God was chiseling my dreams, prayers and hopes about my future husband — as mentioned in https://firechronicles.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/diamonds-in-the-rough/

Anyhow, for context’s sake I’ll recount some of it again.

God started speaking to me about my future husband when I was 14 years old. He told me to write down all the dreams, visions, scriptures and prophetic words that He gave to me, and I did. I’ve known, since 2007, that I’d spend part of my life (if not all of it), and ministry, in Africa. I’ve always had this dream, or idea, (whatever you want to call it) that I’d get married, have kids, and then we, as a happy-Jesus-loving-family, would ride off into the sunset and become missionaries in Africa.

However, while in Botswana, God asked me: “Would you still love and serve me if you never get married, like I promised you?

Man! That hit me smack in the face and was a quick, and much needed, Reality Check.

Oftentimes, we serve God for the sake of that which He can give us — even if we don’t admit it. In Western countries, and much of Africa, this is especially so — the so-called Prosperity Gospel. We get caught up in standing on God’s word and claiming the blessings He has in store for us. Forgive my sarcasm in saying this: Serve God, and when you walk with Him your business will be blessed. Pray to Jesus and you’ll end up with the perfect marriage partner. Give prophesy to one another, and you’re sure to know God’s will for your life. All this is true, however, has this become the ONLY reason we serve Him?

Anyhow, back to the Abraham Encounter, here’s my battle:

On the one hand I KNOW that God is true to His word — it cannot return void. He is not a man that He should lie. He is the same — yesterday, today and forever. I know that I heard Him correctly when He spoke to me about my husband — I wrote it down! He makes all things work together for good! His promises are true and just. He, as a good Father, loves me and has only my best interests at heart — all of which is true.

But on the other hand, I knew that I heard God this time too — was I willing to sacrifice everything in serving Him?

I felt like I was torn between two truths. In the midst of my crisis, Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me — go read the story of Abraham and Isaac. I was like “You’re kidding, right? Can’t you see I’m kind of busy right now? I have important decisions to make!” However, I eventually dried off my tears enough to be able to read the story. (Found in Genesis 22)

Here’s the short version of what goes down in Abraham’s life:

He and Sarah gets married, let’s say around 16/17  years of age — as that was not unusual back then. (Abraham was 30 years older than Sarah, so let’s say he was about 46 years old.)

(Now you’re probably thinking — oh, my gosh! I’m 22 and I don’t even have a boyfriend! HOLD ON — I’m getting to that part in a minute.)

God promises Abram that he’ll be the father of nations, and that he’ll have as many children as there are stars in the sky and sand on the shore — not a small promise. However, the years go by and, let’s say, Abraham and Sarah are facing their 50’s, and STILL — no son.

Then, one day, Sarah figures, “Oh, well! I’ve tried! So, what the hell, let’s send Hagar to Abram and hope he at least has ONE son.” However — this wasn’t God’s deal and He sends Hagar and Ismail into the dessert.

Then, when Sarah hits 90, and Abraham 120, BAM! Isaac — the child of covenant — arrives!

I can just imagine Sarah driving up to the preschool gate on her camel, making small talk with all the other Mommas saying, “Oh, no! I’m not his gran — I just came to pick up my son, Isaac!” And then drives off in a cloud of desert dust.

Then, one fine summer morning, as Abraham (whose name has now changed) is teaching Isaac how to kick a field goal, he hears God speak. Here’s my version of their conversation: (Genesis 22: 1 to 10)

GOD: Abraham.

ABRAHAM: Yes, God?

GOD: See your son over there?

ABRAHAM: Sure ’nuff do. (Proudly smiles as Isaac tackles an imaginary opponent)

GOD: You see that mountain?

ABRAHAM: Yes, God.

GOD: Okay. Here’s what I want you to do: take your son, Isaac, go up the mountain, and when you get there, sacrifice him in a burnt offering to Me.

ABRAHAM. *silence* Er, You’re serious aren’t You?

Now, I might be mistaken, but I doubt Abraham grabbed the first best available camel, saddled up, and cheerily went on a “field trip” up mount Moriah with his son at his side. My guess is that he probably contemplated pretending as if he didn’t hear God speak, and, going up the mountain, looked for EXIT signs and escape routes all the way to the top.

Oftentimes we’re called to go up the mountain.

Sometimes you don’t even know whether you hear God correctly. Sometimes you’re not even certain that you’ve taken the right road up the mountain. Sometimes you’re not certain whether you’re even going up the right mountain.

When I read the story of Abraham and Isaac I cannot help but become jittery with excitement, because, this is ultimately a prophesy about Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin. Let’s face it — sacrificing your son for those who hate you has never been cool. It’s a good thing that God’s not in the business of trying to be cool, because this is exactly what He did when Jesus died on our behalf.

In their journey up Mount Moriah, Abraham spots the place where he as to sacrifice his son in the distance on day 3. He leaves the donkeys and his servants behind, and completes the journey while Isaac carries the wood he was to be sacrificed with.

Are the similarities not super significant!? Jesus carried His cross — the wood He was to be sacrificed on, through the streets of Jerusalem, and up Golgotha — the mountain of sculls. He died, and on the third day, was resurrected after He defeated Death and hell!

I recently watched a film where a young man comes across a woman weeping on a park bench outside of a hospital. He gently goes closer to ask what’s wrong. She then tells him that her boyfriend had died. He then hands her a Kleenex, and asks if she’s ever read the Sunday comics. He then goes on to explain that, to him, the comics seem like a bunch of dots — scattered all over the place, and it only starts to make sense when you interpret it from further away, instead of having your nosed pressed up against the page.

On his way up Moriah, Abraham probably saw only a bunch of dots — he wasn’t certain what God’s plan was, or how all of this was supposed to fit together. However, when he got to the place where he was to build the altar, the dots connected.

Genesis 22: 11 to 14 (AMP) reads:

11 The Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, here I am.

12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for I now know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving me your son, your only son.

13 Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and and ascending sacrifice instead of his son!

14 So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide.

In my own life, I’ve often wondered how or why I should go up the mountain. But God, in His faithfulness, has ALWAYS provided outcome for any battle I’ve had to face. When I told God that I’d serve Him with everything and anything I had — even if He did not fulfill His promises to  me — I was overcome by the most tangible Peace I have ever experienced. It was Peace as thick as a blanket, and it covered me from head to toe. In that instant I knew that God would have blessed me either way — despite the choice that I’d make.

That, for me, is the reason I’m in constant awe at the grace of the cross. Jesus’s death is the most radical thing that EVER took place. History recorded the death of a man, but Eternity recorded the alteration of Destiny. Grace enables me to go freely to Father; to ask of Him whatever I want, and know that He’ll provide to all my needs and desires according to His measure and purpose and time because He loves me more than anything.

And this goes for you too! No matter the mountain you’re facing. No matter if the journey seems impossible, and the mountain is, like, the highest thing EVER! No matter that you’re physically weak, or spiritually on shaky ground. No matter your past mistakes. No matter your decisions. No matter how many times you’ve pretended not to hear God call you up the mountain — He still loves you just the same, and NOTHING — not death, or hell, or sickness, or any kind of evil — can change that, or pull you out of His hand

I mentioned in the introduction that mountains remind me of the freedom of the wind. When I think about my own relationship with God, I cannot think of a better image to describe it than, indeed, that of mountains. Holy Spirit, the Breath of God (Ruach) is the wind that directs me. When my sister and I were kids we’d often go outside on REALLY windy days and hold contests to see who could lean in against the wind furthest without falling over. In the same way I still have to lean on Holy Spirit in order to not fall over. Meeting with God on the mountain, seeking Him face to face, as Moses did in Deuteronomy 34:10, allows me to understand His insights, His heart — to see how the dots connect — to understand how everything fits into the bigger picture.

I’m still not entirely certain that I’m taking the right road up this mountain, but of this one thing I’m most assuredly convinced — when I get to the top the Lamb will be there to step in on my behalf. He has already paid the price in full.

I pray that you might meet God face to face on the mountain.

May you be strengthened when you are weak.

May you be surrounded by spiritual family that will hold up your arms when you grow weary.

May you be guided by the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of Might.

May you see things from God’s perspective.

May the power of the cross never loose power in your life.

May you learn great spiritual lessons, and may you use those lessons to help others climb their mountains.

And above all, may Father’s immeasurable Love keep you and bless you.

May it encourage and guard you.

May you come to know God intimately, and may you grow from Glory-encounter to Glory-encounter to become more and more like Jesus.

 

Isaiah 2:3 [AMP]

“And many people shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”

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4 thoughts on “come! let’s go up the mountain

  1. Its always a pleasure to read something that really brings you close to the Almighty. I have read a few of your blogs, trust me when I say that I feel so uplifted,closer to God than ever. I know I am close to Him but the reading does something so incrediable. May you stay blessed and keed on inspiring us iwth the powerfull words of God!

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