To truly appreciate this post, you'll need to watch the above video. Today's "lesson" will become very evident, so please watch the short video before reading any further.
When a friend directed me to this video, I was intrigued and a little anxious. I love animals, but I don't typically like to see videos of animals in the wild because they are often graphic as they depict the circle of life. Not for me! When the fox made his appearance in this video, I nearly pressed the pause button. I knew I didn't want to see that adorable little ibex being torn to shreds by some wily fox. But I persevered, determined that if things got messy, I would stop the video. I'm so glad I continued to watch.
I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who talks to the characters on television or in videos. "Come on, you know better than that!" I'll scream. Or, "don't trust him, you idiot!" Likewise, when the poor ibex began running back up the cliff, I was screaming my head off. "No, baby, don't run up!" (Isn't that what they always do in suspense films? Duh!) Anyway, back to my yelling. "Run down to your momma. She'll keep you safe." You're so close to the bottom. Don't retrace your steps. Don't single yourself out. Run, ibex, run!" What can I say, I was very emotional at this point.
But when the little ibex's strategy was revealed, not only did I breathe a sigh of relief, but I also sensed a heavenly breeze blowing through my soul. God was speaking (not audibly, of course), and I had no choice but to listen. In a nutshell, this is the message He whispered to my soul:
Dana, how do you think the ibex knew where to go to find protection from the enemy? Common sense would have told him to run down to momma, but something within him urged him upward instead. How do you explain that? Could it be that he knew the path because he had been down it before? He had been led to find the safest route. Because he had made the journey before, he knew where to find safety. What would have happened to that little creature if he hadn't had to make that steep, dangerous descent? He wouldn't have been prepared to fend off the enemy. So, you see, child, the difficulties enabled him to win the battle. His struggles prepared him for the oncoming attack. He knew exactly where to go because he had been there before. Do you understand now how I'm working in your life?
Oh, wow! I, like the ibex, have been down some rugged terrain. I've slid and stumbled down a path that seemed to never end. And all the while I wondered what God was doing. Why was He making it so difficult? Why didn't He help me out? What I never realized is that as I've walked those paths, I've identified areas of protection. I've spotted God's promises and faithfulness along the way. I've come across His love and goodness. I've even traversed a few of His reminders to keep going. And because of that, when the enemy comes prowling, I know where to go to find safety. Instead of following common sense, I run back to the ground that I've already covered--the terrain with which I'm familiar. And it is there that I find shelter. A shelter I would never have know existed unless I had walked the path before.
I have to wonder if singer/songwriter, Rodney Griffin, had the same thought when he penned the words to the song, "Without a Valley." Hearing about God's faithfulness is one thing, but experiencing it is something totally different. Without the valleys, how would we truly know how good God is? How well would we know His promises?
Thank you for the lesson, little ibex. It's a shame you're so much smarter than I am. You learned that lesson within a few days. It's taken me years, and I still struggle with it. But, that's okay because God is also patient. He hasn't given up on me. . . and He never will!