Christine Caine, one of my favorite “Chick Communicators” as she calls herself, says something in many of her sermons that I can’t seem to get out of my brain:
Isn’t it true that God provides precisely what we need, precisely when we need it, often in the most unexpected of ways?
A few months ago I “randomly” ran into a girl who went to Biola, when I was giving a contractor safety training for work in Fresno. In a big ballroom full of construction guys, I was in no way expecting to see anyone my age, much less anyone I knew, but I was surprised. Turns out, Kristen works for her dad’s company and lives in Fresno, which is why she was in the audience.
Last weekend, we finally got to hang out, deciding on a trip to Yosemite, as I had to be in the area for a Monday morning meeting anyways.
I’ve always said that wilderness and friendship do the soul good, and this trip was nothing short of GOOD for my SOUL.
We ended up doing the 7 mile hike up to first Vernal, then Nevada Falls. This route is called “The Mist Trail,” because of the continual mist the waterfall sprays on you during the trek. The last time I hiked this trail, however, just so happened to be in the thick of the drought, and Vernal Falls was nothing more than a trickle, with no such spray of mist. So this time, as Kristen and I approached its base, I was astonished at the volume of the waterfall, gushing gallons each millisecond it seemed, and the mist showering us in its sheer relentlessness.
Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park. My last visit above, versus this recent trip below. Yes, that is the SAME waterfall!
As we hiked, we talked, and though we hadn’t known each other at Biola, it was clear to see that we were kindred spirits, and became fast friends. I was amazed at how much God spoke into my life in getting to know her and her story—it was clear to me that He had ordained that time for us to connect and learn from one another.
We talked a lot about receiving God’s love for us in the deepest places, about exposing lies engrained from past hurts or mistakes, and understanding the radical grace through which God views us.
Gleaning wisdom from her words, I almost burst because everything correlated so closely to something God had very recently revealed to me, as I was driving to her house in Fresno the previous day, in fact.
I had been listening to a Christine Caine sermon called “Possessing the Promise” on the drive. Something about the title drew me in, but I know now that God had a very specific message for me in that very specific moment.
In the sermon, Christine tells the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, where they endured brutal mistreatment for 430 years. After they were delivered from their physical slavery, God did not immediately bring them to the Promised Land, but instead, first brought them into the wilderness. There was a purpose for this. Those years and years of slavery had created in the Israelites certain thought processes, and even after their Exodus from Egypt, they still retained this slave mentality. The purpose of the wilderness was to purge from them this old way of thinking—it was a space of waiting so that God could create in them a new mindset.
As Christine Caine puts it, “God had taken them out of Egypt, but still needed to take the Egypt out of them.” Until this happened, they wouldn’t truly be FREED. She said that so many of us walk around delivered, but what God deeply desires for us is FREEDOM.
It is possible to be delivered, but not freed.
God spoke powerfully to me through this, because I’ve recently been thinking about the idea of “telling ourselves old stories.” This could be old fears, old insecurities, old lies we believed about ourselves.
We all go through things that leave us bruised and broken, whether through something we’ve done or through something that was done to us.
They end up writing lies over who we are:
“You’re not enough.”
“You are lesser than.”
“Nobody likes you.”
“There’s something wrong with you.”
Though the situation that first caused us to believe these things may be long gone, we don’t realize that the thought patterns developed during that season still play like a broken record in our minds.
Even worse, sometimes we recognize these “old stories,” but they feel safe, because they are familiar, and they give us permission to stay where we are, like a butterfly trying to stuff itself back into a cocoon.
But we can’t let what happened TO us, be bigger than what Jesus did FOR us.
And the only way to find freedom from these old stories, and step into the Promised Land, is to tell ourselves the truth.
Hear me: those old stories are always, always LIES, the product of a scheming Enemy who came to steal, kill, and destroy.
We have to allow the truth of who God says we are REIGN in our HEARTS stronger than anything we think or feel, stronger even than the “facts” of the situations we’ve faced. We have to tell ourselves what God says. No other thoughts can be allowed.
…but only the truth you know.
The truth is, the truth can only bring us freedom if we feed on it. Otherwise it just sits there, collecting dust.
As I thought and hiked, I realized that I was still telling myself certain “old stories,” and trying to feed myself on truth resembling that trickle of a waterfall Vernal Falls had been during the drought. Sure, I’d read my Bible in the morning and pray throughout the day, but I wasn’t always aligning my thoughts with God’s truth. Too often, I was allowing feelings and circumstances to run rampant.
That’s a dangerous place to be.
Because when we’re not telling ourselves God’s truth, we are inevitably being influenced by lies.
Lies are all around us.
It’s that moment you scroll through Instagram, and instantly have a whole slew of things you “need” to be “more” of: adventurous, stylish, witty, beautiful, creative, athletic, talented, popular…fill in the blank.
It’s that moment you get a bad grade, or tank an interview, or get in a fight with your friend, or say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
If we’re not grounded in God’s truth, these little moments make us susceptible to some BIG, destructive lies.
As we approached our summit, I realized that the truth I feed myself on needs to more closely resemble the state of the waterfall on this current trip: abundant, powerful, and CONSTANT.
When Kristen and I finally made it to the top of Vernal Falls, then up a ways further to Nevada Falls, we hadn’t been enjoying the view for more than five minutes when a massive storm rolled in. We’re talking thunder, wind, dark skies, and hail—all out of nowhere.
This prompted us to start our descent, and the second we did so the hail stopped, and a torrential downpour began. It didn’t let up for one second the entire hour we hiked back down.
The rain, the mist, the waterfall, they were a trifecta working together to create an abundance all around us. We were getting soaked through to the very bone; my sleeves were kept busy by the constant roll of water droplets down my forehead. Not only was the waterfall full, but the very steps we were hiking down were streaming with water. Unassuming cracks in the rocks all around us were turned into makeshift waterfalls.
Water had found its way into every nook, cranny, and crevice around us, and had washed them all clean.
I can’t help but think, that this is a picture of what the work of TRUTH should look like in our lives.
In order to live in the full freedom God intends for us, we need to consciously take captive each thought, submitting it to the truth of His Word. We need to feed on Scripture, memorizing it, letting it seep in abundance into each crevice of doubt, insecurity, and fear that remains in the deepest places of our beings. We need to write out truth, and repeat it to ourselves, first thing in the morning, and at every other point in the day when some happenstance tempts us to flirt with the lies.
We need to allow truth to REIGN in our hearts the way water RAINED on that hiking trail.
God’s Word is full of promises for us to grab hold of, it’s full of wisdom He wants to speak into our hearts, and it makes known to us the path of LIFE (Psalm 16:11).
God has so much FREEDOM and JOY that He wants us to walk in.
And that’s exactly what will happen when we allow truth to rain.
“He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains” (Psalm 104:10).
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
The thunder rolls…
Get off the mountaintop just because a little storm is rolling in? HAIL, no!
The last of the photos I was able to take on the way down without completely soaking through and ruining my camera.
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