Remember playing “Mother May I”? One person gave the instructions to the other players. The other players would say, “Mother May I, take 4 steps forward” and the one at the other end of the playing area would say, “Yes, you may or no, you may hop forward on one foot 3 hops.” And then the players would begin their approach towards them. The goal was to reach the end of the playing area first. Yesterday we were talking about appreciating the “valley” we might be in. Those tough valleys we might have to pass through on the way to those wonderful mountain top experiences with God are important. We need them to appreciate the mountains and see the mountains as beautiful. We learn things as we pass through the valleys and can praise God for them while on the mountain of joy. In that same passage we are given some instructions about our time in the valley. Psalm 23: 4 says
“4I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe.”
This scripture instructs us to “walk” through the valley. How many of us just want to run and get out of that valley. We will do anything to avoid the trial, stress, problems, emotions, or conflicts. We just want it to be over and to be on to a peaceful, enjoyable and beautiful part of our life. Yet, if we did run through the valley we might miss the view. We might miss what we were to learn. We would miss the blessings God has for us in that valley.
So the next time you find yourself in the valley, look up towards the mountains and walk your way towards them. Enjoy the view and the level path through the valley that Lord will put you on, if you let Him.
In light of the recent skepticism and mockery created by the recent false prophecies of a certain religious group, we need to address as Christians how to handle being mocked or respond to the mocker and skeptic. As Christians our witness is put on the line by all those around us proclaiming to be Christians, as well. So when groups like this do things that put Christians in a bad light, we are going face more pressure from the world for our faith. We need to know how to respond. Jesus gave us the best demonstration of wisdom when it came to those who deliberately mocked and scoffed at Him. All throughout the four gospels you will find accounts of Jesus being ridiculed, laughed at, and asked skeptical questions. Many of the questions He was asked were just to make Him look bad and place Him in jeopardy of the law. When it came to His last days on Earth we see Him deal with mockers and scoffers even more frequently. During His various trials before the Jews and conversations with Pilate we see Him being continually accused. In Mark 15: 3-5 we read:
“3 The chief priests were accusing Jesus of many things, 4 so Pilate questioned him again,
Aren’t you going to answer? Listen to all their accusations! 5 Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed.”
In our own human nature, we want to defend ourselves. Jesus was the only truly innocent man there ever was. Of all people, He had a right to defend Himself. He also had all the power and wisdom to defend Himself that He needed. Yet, in His wisdom He chose not to respond to the mocking and accusations. His actions really did speak loudly for Him in the end. By the time Pilate was done with Him, he felt Jesus was innocent and should be released. Think about how you would feel about Jesus if you knew that He didn’t go innocently to the cross for us. If Jesus lashed out at His accusers, and punished them for what they were doing, what would you be thinking about Him? By the way He responded we see Him more as that true gentle, peaceable, loving Lamb of God. We see Him as the true sacrifice for sin. If He had gotten revenge on those who blatantly did wrong against Him, we would probably have a whole different view of Him. He did more for the faith by staying strong and silent, then by coming back at those who mocked. Even on the cross Jesus asked that the Father forgive them and in wisdom stated, “For they know not what they do.”
Mockers, scoffers and skeptics truly don’t know what they are doing. They react out of worldly conditioning and sinful natures. We need to learn to respond to those who come against us for our faith in wisdom like Jesus did. We need to remember where they are at spiritually and if it were not for Jesus, we would be there too.