“I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron”.
We start with a promise. If I’m being honest, this is scary already. Not as in, “Ah! I’m scared!”, of course, but, I must begin by taking God Almighty at His word. What is His word worth to me?
From what I’d call a ‘cultural’ standpoint, I was raised as most from the east coast are raised. Unfortunately, we’re taught to pretty much always assume the worst of every person. We don’t say “hello” when we pass by someone walking down the street. We always make sure to lock the house door (even when we’re home), and our cars get locked when they’re parked in the driveway. If you’re a little ‘out-of-the-box’, maybe you’re friends with your neighbors. I could continue this list for too long of a time, that adds up (and make living in a place like Montana very interesting!) to my general skepticism toward people.
To add to this, it’s something I’m positive I’ve shared before and will likely share again, but I’m not exactly a trusting person. I am the doubter and natural skeptic. People promise things all the time. As I look back at my life, I see the damage of humans making promises to me. The wreckage is vast, coming in the form of general sentiments of friendship, intentions of making ‘good’ things happen in the future, prevention of ‘bad’ things occurring, and my personal favorite: “I love you”. All fell short. Painfully short, leaving me to wonder, time after time, who could possibly be worthy of my trust.
All of that to say, this is what I bring to the table whenit comes to a promise. The Lord is (and has been) teaching me quite a bit about the fact that He is unlike any other person. That lesson is prevalent in this verse and the others that follow it. So already I must decide: do I trust Him? Will I?
He has gone before me. If I’m resting in this promise, it brings exactly that: rest. I have nothing to fear. He will bring victory into my life. He means what He says. The ESV reads:
“…and level the exalted places…”
It makes a note of literally meaning to level the mountains. What an amazing image to have! I live in a valley here in Montana, so no matter which way I turn I can see mountains. They are huge. Logically, I think there could be no way even one of these mountains could be brought down a little, never mind completely flattened.
God faithfully parallels mountains to the trials in my life-these big, breath-taking things that are constantly in my face. Everywhere I turn I see them. Physically and figuratively, I am surrounded. But God. He promises that He will (and has!) leveled the mountains. He has already won the battle. My God has declared victory. Not only have the mountains been conquered…He has LEVELED them! I am meant to continue walking forward without trouble, for there is nothing standing in my way- the obstacles have been eradicated.
I really don’t live with this in mind enough. I look around. I size myself up to these mountains, shrinking back cowardly. How could I climb this? How could I ever move past it? It’s enormous! This is where fail to take God at His word. I belittle Him as if my mountains are too big for Him to handle.
Other times, I just grow weary. I fight in my own strength, wasting my breath because God has already fought and won. I lose momentum. I’m tired of climbing this same mountain. I’m done facing it. I can’t do this anymore…So I don’t. I hold onto my rights and stay inthe valley. The low place. Ultimately short-changing myself and disobeying what the Lord has asked me to do daily: pick up my cross and follow Him.
In fact, I have mountains tattooed on my arm as a huge reminder for me. They are encapsulated by a triangle. The three sides representing the three parts of the trinity. God has the mountains. He contains them-He sees them, He knows them. At the top of the triangle reads: At any cost. That means regardless of what these mountains hold, regardless of if I am tired, no matter what I lose in the end, I will climb these mountains. I will press on through trials because I can always hold onto the simple truth:
He will go before me. He has already had victory. He has and will and is fully capable of bringing down any and all mountains in my life.
“…I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron”.
There is also strong imagery, here. Literally! I picture huge doors- those guarding the entry to a fortified city or a castle. They are heavy. Unable to be lifted in human strength. You would be crushed under the weight of a bronze door. And bars of iron? I think of prison bars. Not escapable. It would take a powerful saw to cut through those bars. But in merely human strength? Impossible to do.
I can see the God I serve is in the business of promising me impossible things. And I am clearly in the business of shrinking Him down to human standards. But in this verse, He promises to essentially shatter any stronghold in my life. He is promising to set me free of the jail cell I so often willingly sit in. The Lord promises:
Father, forgive me for my unbelief. You know, by nature, I am skeptical, and You know of my trust issues. But You are so much bigger. You are deserving of my trust. You have never left me nor forsaken me, and I thank You for that. Remind me of truth when I begin to doubt. When I look around and only see the size of the mountains, will You please teach me to step forward in faith, believing You have already won the victory in my life?