Descent #17 (Part II)

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November 22, 2021

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

CONSIDER THIS

I say Para-Klasis. You say Hoop-O-Money.

We left off yesterday at the point where I was almost certain I was coming to the bottom of Descent #17 after a full decade of hard slogging disappointment. Little did I know I was only halfway down the mountain. For context, in my story, the first half of Descent #17 ran from 2000 to 2010. The second half would continue unabated from 2011-2020. If you were looking in from the outside and at least a hundred miles away it would have looked like a glorious ascent was taking place. These years were marked by the founding of Seedbed Publishing, the birth of the New Room Conference, the launch of the Daily Text and many other exciting developments. 

At the same time, in retrospect, I get the feeling there was a backroom meeting in Heaven one day where some ambitious middle management junior demon asked Jesus for permission to “sift” me. A series of traumatic occurrences and tragic events began to unfold in my home and family that (to anyone inside a hundred miles) would have appeared like we were hurtling down the mountain out of control. I won’t go into it other than to say it turned out to be an eight year train wreck in slow motion in which I lost everything but my children. It is unhelpful at this point to assign fault or blame other than to say it was clearly a trial and test of satanic origins and outcomes. There is no acrimony; only pain. 

Since January 2020 I have found myself on the valley floor wandering around in the ruins of a life that once was, battling despair, grieving losses, picking up pieces and mostly just putting them back down and wondering, “Why Jesus, and what for, and what now?” I am also with so many of you, affirming aloud, “THIS IS A TEST OF MY FAITH.” With everything in me, I am believing the testing of my faith is producing perseverance. And I’m learning to “let perseverance finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” 

So why am I telling you all of this? This is supposed to be about Bible study, right? Well, I want you to know how the Bible is studying me. I want you to know who you are dealing with—a man who has been broken by life yet who believes every word of Scripture and every word he writes concerning it.

All of this brings me to Valley #18. As I wander the arid floor of Valley #18, I am surveying the wondrous Cross from a whole new vantage point, and trying to fathom how so much breathtaking beauty and splendor could come from such devastating suffering and brokenness. I’m trying to learn the song of Valley #18. 

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Earlier this year as I was working to will my mouth to utter these words I struggled to mean, Jesus spoke to me. In the non-audible, impressionistic way he messages me, he said, “You are waiting on things to get better before you rejoice in me, aren’t you?” Picture me in stunned silence—the “mind blown” and “hand over face” emojis appearing above me. “Yes, Jesus, you are right. I am waiting on things to get better. I am waiting on my losses to be restored, for my loneliness to be abated, for my circumstances to turn around before I will be ready to rejoice in the Lord.” 

Then this from Jesus. “This moment you are in right now—this is the moment you will learn to rejoice in me or you will never learn it all. Do not miss the meaning of this moment. Do not let this opportunity pass. Do not wait for things to get better. This is the moment of Pure Joy. Rejoice in the Lord.” 

I can’t claim to be singing it just yet, but I am saying it. I’m finding the pure joy of Valley #18 to be a slow rising phenomenon in my soul, but rising no less. Though the minor chords of the lament of Descent #17 continue to claim the melody of this season, . . . 

yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. 

THE PRAYER

Father, thank you for your long-suffering patience with us, with me. I have settled for, no—I have sought after happiness for too long now. All the while you have wanted to teach me joy. Thank you for leading me into a descent that threatened to ruin me because you wanted to redeem me. You didn’t rescue me out of it, which I may never understand, but bless you because you are redeeming me in and through it. Jesus, thank you for being my constant companion and for coming alongside me in the form of my friends and their constant encouragement. Holy Spirit, bring forth my singing voice into a way of rejoicing in the Lord I have not yet known. Teach me the song of Valley #18. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Do you identify with this way of waiting on things to get better before rejoicing in the Lord? What keeps you from rejoicing in the Lord right in the midst of the mess of it all? How do you do it in a way that is not forced but real? 

P.S. FRIENDS, OUR PASTORS ARE IN DESCENT #17 MORE THAN AT ANY OTHER TIME IN OUR LIFETIME. IT HAS REACHED CRISIS LEVELS.  

Pastors and Leaders of Churches, will you let us serve you in the season ahead? Players (aka laity) will you consider getting involved to help sponsor this work?*

Please click on one (or both) options to register interest:

I AM AN INTERESTED PASTOR/LEADER (full time or bi-vocational).

I WANT TO EXPLORE SPONSORING A PASTOR(S). 

*We are hearing from Jesus a long game calling to encourage, build-up, and deeply invest in the Shepherds of the Kingdom—our local church pastors. The global pandemic has challenged us all, but it has uniquely challenged our shepherds. In 2022 we will begin a multi-year campaign to renew the heart and restore the awakening calling of these leaders.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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