Lost in the cave…
I don’t know how I got here. Life was good… I had a good position, and people loved me; my marriage seemed to be okay, and everything was going along smoothly. Then the betrayal and my employment, money, family, mentor, and best friend were all gone. I don’t know why God would bring me here, what went wrong… why am I alone here in this cave?
The problem of pain and heartache is the question we struggle with the most. We desire comfort and ease, we want our own way, and, more importantly, we crave autonomy. But God has a different way of living. David exclaims, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God is not interested in making life easy or keeping us from the dark valleys. He desires to conform us to the image of His Son, who is perfectly humble and obedient, and He knows it is only in the valleys of death and caves of loneliness that our souls are emptied and able to be renewed in His likeness.
Moses reminds us of the journey God took Israel on when He led them into the wilderness; “Remember how the Lord your GOD LED YOU ALL THE WAY IN THE WILDERNESS these forty years, TO HUMBLE AND TEST YOU to KNOW WHAT WAS IN YOUR HEART, and whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out, and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” (Deut 8:1-5) God’s purpose is not to make you feel good about yourself or indulge your infatuations, His purpose is to make you holy as He is holy so that you can enjoy eternity with Him. What does it profit you to gain the whole world if, in the process, you lose your soul to eternal darkness and despair? To do this, God will remove every ‘thing’ you have that replaces Him.
Tozer writes, “Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation, these are called simply “things.” They were made for man’s uses, but they were always meant to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him. But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine, and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart, “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.”
God took David from being the “Giant Killer” and “conqueror of 10,000’s” to being alone in a cave in the middle of the wilderness. In the process, He removed every ‘usurper’ and ‘thing’ he depended on; His position of power and wealth, his marriage, his mentor, his sanity, and most importantly, his best friend. David’s soul had been knit to Jonathan’s, and his friendship gave him the strength to face every battle. But now they were all gone, and the walls of hopelessness and depression were closing in on him.
It was here in the cave that David realized God was his refuge, his mighty fortress in times of storm. God’s Word tells us, “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath (you) are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’ (Deut 33:26-27)
Are you here too, in the cave, wondering how you got here? You are not alone; God is with you just as He was with David when he wrote, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod of protection and Your staff of guidance comfort me.” Do you see those words above, “His everlasting arms are underneath you?” You can trust your soul into God’s everlasting arms. You can remove your pride from the core of your heart and place Jesus as the king of your life. His reign will bring everlasting hope, strength, contentment, joy, and love. Paul tells of a treasure that God gives those who believe His word, that treasure is the Spirit; the Spirit is the very essence of Jesus given to everyone who believes… “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:16-17) Wow, can you imagine it? Freedom from depending on myself, freedom from a destructive lifestyle, freedom to live today because God is taking care of all the tomorrows, freedom to trust Him with the outcomes and live boldly and confidently today!
Our Heavenly Father promises to fight for you, “so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you and uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ (Is 41:10) You may be in the cave like David and the others that God guides into the wilderness, but this is not the end; it is the beginning of God’s next step in His extraordinary plan for your life. You only need to choose Him over yourself, placing Jesus on the throne of your heart, and trust Him with the outcome. Then you will proceed with power and confidence because God is in control.
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.