Today I want to introduce you to another friend and author, Dave Arnold, who I believe you will be excited to meet and follow! Please connect with Dave on his website and you can get his Free E-Book called “Made to Soar.” I had the privilege to make a small editing contribution in his book before it was available. Hold on tight and remember this name, because I am sure you will be hearing it again in the Christian genre. Please help me make Dave welcome today by leaving him a comment at the end.
At least I do.
This is why we typically go on a retreat, or attend a conference, which, of course, are wonderful things.
As a result, we usually come back home with our faith soaring. And often, those shots of spiritual adrenaline are what help us to keep going in a world as painful and dark as ours.
When faith is easy
But eventually, it wears off. Hours after our small group, or the day after we get home from the retreat, or even a few hours after church, “normal life” kicks in.
The truth is, we like it when faith is easy, when everything goes smoothly, when all of our loved ones are healthy and get along (is that even possible?).
Although there are those moments (and thank God for that) they don’t last. Conflict is inevitable this side of Heaven. Pain and loneliness and disappointed are par for course.
The reality of the valley
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter, James, and John had an experience they never forgot. Jesus took them up to a mountain and there, Mark tells us, “(Jesus) was transfigured before them” (Mark 9:2).
Not only that but Elijah and Moses showed up. Can you imagine?
“’Rabbi,’ Peter said, “’it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters…’” (2:5).
In other words, “This is great. Let’s stay here for a while. Heck, let’s live here!”
And why wouldn’t they?
These ordinary disciples, fisherman by trade, were given a taste of Heaven.
But eventually they had to come down the mountain, and as soon as they got down to join the other disciples, a crowd of people surrounded Jesus and a boy possessed by an evil spirit was brought to Him (Mark 9:14-29)
Did you catch that?
Immediately after this amazing experience, the disciples were confronted with chaos in the valley.
This is where you and I live.
The purpose of the mountain
The purpose of a mountain top experience, then, is not for our benefit solely; rather, it exists to strengthen our faith so we can face the chaos surrounding us and ultimately bless others.
This is messy and gritty work, to say the least. There are crowds of people with overwhelming needs all around us. There is evil present, constantly seeking to devour whoever is in its path.
And yet, this is where Jesus spent the majority of time. True, He needed to go the mountains to pray and recharge. But He did so in order to minister in the valley.
Where faith grows
Today, however, nothing lives. Nevertheless, underneath the frozen landscape, the seeds of flowers and plants lay still, eagerly awaiting warm weather.
The truth is, life still exists in spite of the cold and darkness. It is the same with faith.
Faith will break through the frozen landscape of our hurts and challenges. We just need to be patient and trust in the One who leads us through the “valley of the shadow darkness.”
The great Scottish preacher, A.J. Gossip once said, “So long as God’s will runs parallel to ours, we follow blithely. But the moment that they cross, or clash, that life grows difficult, that we don’t understand, how apt faith is to fail us just when we have most need of it.”
We need faith the most in the shadows, in the valley. Moreover, this is where people live, and this where Jesus calls us to minister.
Question: How have you seen your faith grow in the shadows? Please share.
Thank you Dave for sharing with us today.
Dave Arnold is a writer, speaker, blogger. He works and ministers to the immigrants and refugees in the Detroit-area. Dave is married to Angie and they have Luke and a baby girl coming into the world on March 10th. Dave is the author of Pilgrims of the Alley: Living out Faith in Displacement, and his latest book, “It’s Possible: How to Thrive (Not Just Survive) in Life, comes out on Feb. 17, 2014. You can lean more at www.reflectionsfromthealley.org and connect with Dave on Twitter, https://twitter.com/davejarnold16, and Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/dave.arnold.39589
Photo credit: Jeff McGraw (my sweet husband!) and
Dave Arnold’s Facebook photos
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