Sure Footed

To be a successful mountain climber, sure-footing helps. Navigation skills, having the correct equipment and supplies, climbing skills, and sheer determination also play a major role. However, its that sure-footing that gives the climber the confidence to reach the most treacherous of heights, in the midst of some of the most extreme circumstances. We may see a successful climb as reaching the summit, a sign of our sure-footing. However, its not always the reaching the summit that is the most important task. Many times our sure-footing is needed in greater ways along the journey. Perhaps to engage in an event that arises which helps tell an even greater story, a story that gives people hope or inspires them. 

 Just ask the twenty-four year old man from Israel who tried to climb Mt. Everest last month. Nadav Ben Yehuda attempted to become the youngest Israeli to ever reach the summit of Mt. Everest, and all signs pointed to this being a successful venture as he climbed to about three hundred yards from the top. However, with the top clearly in his sights and all the glory sure to come, Yehuda’s trip encountered something unexpected. He saw a man lying unconscious in the snow, and decided to pass up his chance on reaching the top to save this man’s life. Yehuda picked up the injured climber and carried him over eight hours to safety. In the process, Yehuda stripped off his gloves to get a better grip on the man as he carried him. Because of that, he got frostbite on his fingers and is now in danger of losing a few of them. Due to this young man’s heroics, he is now going to receive Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor. 

 Its easy to see this as an almost modern day Good Samaritan parable, especially given the fact that the injured climber was Turkish and there remains a strained relationship between the countries of Israel and Turkey. In the midst of life’s journey and climb, we will face harsh and difficult circumstances. But its not about removing ourselves from those circumstances, running away from them, giving up, or even trying to fix our circumstances so that we can get to the top and be comfortable. No, its about trusting in something much bigger than ourselves. Its resting in the hands of an Almighty God and finding our strength, our sure-footedness in Him. When we do that, we begin to have a joy, confidence, and peace that in some of life’s most treacherous conditions. Not only that, we help lead others to peace in difficult times.

 In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, we read something in the prophet’s prayer that serves as an incredible reminder about the trust one should have in God, and how with that trust, comes confidence, joy, and peace in the midst of difficult times. Habakkuk 3:17-19 reads, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” 

 Habakkuk was ready for great destruction to come upon his people. Through a conversation he had with God, it was revealed that his nation, Judah, awaited destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. At first, Habakkuk complained to God. He didn’t think it was just that a more wicked nation, Babylon, should destroy a less wicked nation, Judah. God saw both nations as wicked and he used their wickedness to fulfill his own sovereign plans. At first, Habakkuk didn’t have great trust in those plans. He wanted to tell God how to run the world. To think about how laughable that is, think about getting on a commercial airline and telling the pilot how to fly the plane, or a fat, out of shape fan trying to tell Lebron James how to hit a perfect jump shot, or some civilian whose never strapped on a pair of Army boots trying to lead an infantry platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Those things are ridiculous, and so is trying to tell God how to do His job. Still, we do this all the time. When life gets hard, we pray to God and tell Him exactly how to fix it. Of course, God hardly answers our prayers exactly the way we picture them to be answered. And that’s okay. God hears our prayers. The bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” 

 Our role is not to tell God how to answer our prayers, but its simply to pray to God and trust him to already have the answers. God wants us to have joy and peace. He offers us a sure-footedness that only comes by his strength. Through this we can navigate the hazards and obstacles of life. Through this we can have a great confidence and lead others to the same peace that comes in trusting God. So often though, we become victims of our own circumstances. We allow circumstances to determine our joy. 

Its no secret that life is tough. Like Mt. Everest, climbing through life these days is arduous. It is easy to become like Habakkuk was in the beginning of this book. We complain to God because of all the hardships we have to endure. We can parallel those things to the imagery Habakkuk uses when he talks about the trees and vines not producing any food, or the stalls and fields containing no livestock. Habakkuk is describing desperate and hopeless circumstances. Many of the circumstances you have faced may seem desperate and hopeless. But the great truth is that we can overcome those circumstance and still find joy in our God. You see, Habakkuk wanted to tell God how to fix everything, but at the end of this book, including the passage that we already read, Habakkuk has changed his tune. He is remembering that he can trust in something much bigger than himself. He is remembering that his strength comes from God. Habakkuk is realizing that even in the midst of suffering and loss, he needs to trust in God. He needs to remember that God has a plan. The same God that Habakkuk turned to for salvation, is the same God who carries his current fate. This trust should not stop or waver back and forth. 

When we have trust, we have true joy. We don’t have this joy in our circumstances, but we have it in God. Take joy in the God of our salvation. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, God has provided for us a way to Him, the way of salvation. Part of the encouragement today is to remember the salvation that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but to also lead others to this joy of salvation as you tread along this journey. God is the rock. He is our strength. Habakkuk uses the imagery of God giving him the feet of a deer. The feet of deer is sure-footed, allowing them to climb high, in the heights of extreme conditions. God allows Habakkuk to be sure footed and navigate through extreme and difficult circumstances. The same is true for us. God makes our feet able to climb on great heights, not just to overcome our circumstances, but also to be lifesavers, to help lead others to great places. Don’t let circumstances steal your joy. Realize the strength that God gives! Realize the heights that God equips you to climb. Realize the people God wants you to help save along that climb!