God , the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places… (Habakkuk 3:19 ESV)
Living by faith is a journey, a path leading up to greater heights and dramatic vistas. As we go, the journey require more reliance on God for strength. The prophet Habakkuk chooses to use the image of a deer walking effortlessly on the high slopes of a mountain – a place that would make most people anxious and requires sure-footing with each step.
At the time, Habakkuk had reasons to be anxious; injustice and oppression had once again become the way of life, especially the ones in power at. At the beginning of the book, Habakkuk struggles with his faith, asking God if he even cares or notices the oppression and evil that is going on. The wicked seem to have the “sure-footing” and everything going well for them.
In the middle of the book, God answers him, giving Habakkuk a vision of what is to come. An invading force would occupy the land, which itself will also be judged. Life was about to change and change dramatically. In the midst of this, we have 2:4, which notes that the “righteous continue to live by faith”.
This is the overall theme of the book – walking the path or faith in any circumstance, whether we are doing great things or overcoming some obstacle in our path. How do we do this? We rely on God for our strength, who enables us to walk with confidence, even in the most precarious situations.
Waiting for all of this to take place, Habakkuk then commits to living by faith. We see how far he has gone in his faith journey, climbing from the depths of fear and doubt to reach great heights of faith. Habakkuk gets to a place where he is focusing on his own path and fully relying on God for strength. He found an inner peace and assurance that isn’t based on favorable circumstances, but on experiencing God in each moment and enjoying the journey.
On a personal level, this imagery resonates with me. I enjoy hiking, especially in the mountains. Though, unlike my wife, I try not to get too close to the edge of the cliffs and drop-offs. Regardless, having sure-footing is always a must, even when you aren’t close to the edge. This week, we happened to be buying some hiking shoes and I noticed that the place actually had an inclined ramp that you could walk on the test the grip of different shoes. Anyway, I was impressed by it and tried on several pairs just for fun. Point being you want shoes that will give you sure footing and grip and whatever conditions you face.
Who would buy hiking shoes that only “worked’ when walking on level ground, or a specific set of conditions? Better yet, we should ask the question; why would anyone want to base their source of strength, love, joy, happiness, sense of inner peace on a specific set of circumstances?
The answer is to find our fulfillment in something that will give us strength any circumstance, which is our relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
As we live out this faith, following the path of God’s wisdom in our lives, we find ourselves at greater and greater heights and facing different obstacles along the way. As we ascend, we grow and learn more and more to rely on God as our strength. We have less time to mess around with unnecessary worries and anxieties, and we realize more more what is really important.
Maybe God calls us to do something monumental or world-changing. Our path winds around a corner and we find out that it’s leading toward some high and snow-capped Peak. We might be tempted to give in to worry and anxiety, turning back and heading for the safety of the familiar.
The good news is that we only need to trust God and follow the path, focusing on the present moment and experiencing God in it. Relying on God we also trust that God will enable us to be who we need to be when we need to be it. We will find that God will provide a way and things will end up being different than we expected and usually far better. As is true in anything, you will never really know until you are doing it.
“You never know how steep something is until you “rub noses with it.” From far away, you can’t really judge.” – Bear Grylls
Keep on the path, ascending the mountain of faith everyday and experiencing God in the present moment.
Grow in your faith and reliance on God for your strength.
Inspire others to do the same, sharing your stories of how God has brought you safely through each obstacle and to each high place.