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Ascending the Mountain …. The Expedition of Our Lives: A Journey to Shavuot

Updated: 6 days ago


Our life is a journey, a great expedition, if you will. I believe we all desire to reach the summit at our appointed time, intact and with as little damage done as possible. We want to climb wisely, reaching each assigned goal while staying on the course plotted by God. To reach the summit will require many different things. A sound mind, strength, endurance, appropriate tools/gear, training, and proper nourishment, to name a few…. But most importantly- we must always listen to our guide, Our Heavenly Father, who speaks lovingly through the examples of Yeshua and the guidance of his Ruach Ha Kodesh!


It is common to evaluate our journey at this time of year. In preparation for Passover, we have just spent time removing the physical leaven from our homes and continue attempting to remove the spiritual leaven in ourselves. We remember all that was done for us to take us out of bondage while we celebrate Passover and First Fruits. And then we begin the journey to Shavuot, the only Biblical feast without a date. Daily, we count the Omer, purposefully reaching for that 50th day. The days of the Omer are a reminder to be spiritually watchful and alert.


Matthew 24:44-46 encourages us, “Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come." Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his lord has set over his household to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes.”


I think we all know that staying spiritually watchful and alert is not always easy. We can stray from our plotted course up the mountain, and we can even stop listening to our guide…

Above, I mentioned a few things, tools if you will, that we need to reach the summit, but first, let’s talk a bit about a few common things that can lure us off of our course.



Does anybody have any ideas? Here are some that came to my mind but I am sure you can add to these:

Fear

Anger

Disappointment

Complacency

Lack of Thankfulness

Sickness

Flat-out disobedience!

Self-Deception, denying or rationalizing.

Lack of discipline

Busyness

Comparison

Our response to tragedies


The many demands of life tend to cause us to rush, sometimes blindly, through our day, going from task to task, barely noticing the things of life going on around us. Focusing primarily on checking off each item of our carefully orchestrated “To Do List,” we feel a sense of great accomplishment and, dare I say, even power, in crossing off each item as though we have just conquered some great foe!


We hear things like, “You can have it all, be it all, do it all.” We half-joke about being tired. “I am woman, I am strong, I am tired.” Busyness can be a distraction that can easily cause us to wander off course. We have confused Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:13 of “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!” to mean “bring it on, heap the tasks upon me-I can-I MUST get it all done!” And when we can’t manage to fulfill every item on our self-authored “To Do List,” we feel like we are somehow not living up to the definition of a modern woman of God. Or that we are about as far away from baring any resemblance to a chayil woman as we could possibly be.


Who is the author of your To Do List? Whose voice are you listening to?

It can be so easy to get stuck comparing our journey with the journey of others. There are two likely outcomes from this way of thinking. The first possible result is tearing down ourselves. “Did you see everything Sister So & So can do? Sister So & So cooks way better than I can, dresses better than I do, Sister So & So has more, fill in the blank.” We will begin to bear the fruit of ENVY, that’s right ladies, that disgusting green-eyed monster our mothers warned us about! Do any of you ladies relate to this one? Not just me? OK. Envy will cause us to feel defeated and give up or cause us to strive to “measure up” with Sister So & So.



Are you listening to your guide at that moment? No, I don’t think so.

Is it any wonder that James 3:16 warns us, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice”? Or that Proverbs 14:30 tells us, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot?


Now, the second possible result of comparing our journey with the journey of someone else’s is one that I am SURE no one in here has ever struggled with….it is when we simply cannot understand “why Sister So & So just can’t get her act together? Why she can’t get done all the tasks that you can, at least half as well as you do. After all, you’re busy too. Why can’t she just do her fair share?! 


 Are you listening to your guide at that moment? Not likely. How could you possibly hear Him over your complaining?

Now you have just told Sister So & So that she is somehow “less than” because she doesn’t meet your current definition of Superwoman, which will likely cause her to feel defeated and give up or cause her to strive to “measure up” with YOU, self-proclaimed Superwoman. YIKES! certainly, now about you, but I certainly do not want anyone modeling themselves after me unless what they are seeing is Yeshua shining through me!


Luke 10:40-42 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


2 Corinthians 10:12 warns us not to be like those who commend themselves….. For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. NKJV




Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

The result of either of these two scenarios is SOMEONE will become someone or something they were never created to be which will ultimately result in causing us to be off course on our climb up the mountain.



Fear:

Did you know there are 365 references to “fear not” in the Bible? It sounds like our Creator had a pretty good idea that fear could be a problem for us. We can be afraid of many things; this world can be a scary place.


John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”


Did you ever think that serving our Creator can be scary? I’m not talking about persecution now. I am talking about serving in your calling. Studying your Bible, praying, going to church, etc., etc.… isn’t usually too terribly scary to but what if God actually asks you to DO something?! *GASP: What if He wants you to do something to partner with Him in growing His Kingdom?


Acknowledging and stepping out in our gifts and callings can be scary. What if I fail? You will. What if I don’t do it like Sister So & So? You won’t. (You shouldn’t) The good news is, the Creator doesn’t expect perfection or instant mastery of skill.


When your children were learning to walk or eat with a spoon, did you scold or chastise them when they fell down or got food all over themselves? Were you disappointed in their performance? Did you love them any less? Of course not. If you were anything like me, you cheered and clapped over every move forward and every small bit of mashed sweet potato that made it into their little mouths! You were probably quite certain that your child was a genius! I know mine are.  *wink     If we, in our flawed state, have such emotion for our children…imagine how our PERFECT Creator feels about us…. His children.


More good news: He didn’t ask you to do it like Sister So & So. He asked her to do it the way she does it. He wants you to do it like He told YOU to do it. Good thing, right?

When I was younger and first coming to recognize some gifts and callings…pointed out primarily by my husband, I might add that, as I didn’t see a darn thing, I was terrified to step out. In fact, I declined a couple of times. Then one day my husband said something to me that has stuck with me for over 20 years.  He said, “The more afraid you are to do it, the more important it is that you do it.” You see, ladies, we can’t let fear dictate who we are. Each and every one of you has a Creator-given assignment, and someone, possibly in this very room, is relying on you to do it.


Don’t be robbed of your destiny.

And don’t think that if you have not been given an “up front” kind of calling that your task is anyway less important. EVERY task is important and vital to accomplishing His Kingdom plan. It takes a tremendous amount of “background” work to make it possible for anyone “up front” to accomplish what they have been asked to do. Remember what Corinthians chapter 12 teaches us. We are one body with different gifts.


Don’t be robbed of your destiny.

Let’s be real here. I think that almost everyone reading this has something they are afraid of. None of us have arrived. Let’s quit pretending and ask for help when we need it. Let’s give help when we can, to whatever degree we are able. This is NOT a competition, friends. We are ALL on the SAME team.


Several weeks back, a friend shared a quote that has been resonating with me ever since he shared it. The quote was, “There is no limit to what can be achieved in this town if no one cares who gets the credit.” The same can be said for the Kingdom. Believe me, there is enough work for everyone. Let’s come alongside each other, let’s help our fellow climbers reach the summit.



Obviously, there are far too many different events and circumstances that can take us off course as we travel up the mountain for us to go into today. I’m sure we all have a story of our own to tell. The most important thing is that thankfully, no matter the reason for our diversion, our guide, The Father is there to help us get back on the trail. Let’s talk a little bit about how we can get back on the trail and continue our journey toward the summit. What does scripture say about how we can get up the mountain?


Psalm 24:3, 4 Who may ascend the mountain of HASHEM, and who may stand in the place of His sanctity. One with clean hands and pure heart; who has not sworn in vain by My soul, and has not sworn deceitfully


The sages say this means that one who wishes to enjoy spiritual elevation must refine their behavior. They must be honest in their dealings with man and reverent in their attitude towards G-d. More than the land, brick, and mortar, only the personal qualities of the worshipers can build G-d’s Temple.


Did you know that there is actually a legal term called the Clean Hands Doctrine? It is basically a rule of law that a person coming to court with a lawsuit or petition for a court order must be free of unfair conduct regarding the subject matter of their claim. Clean Hands = Not having done anything wrong. I just thought that was interesting….

As you know, we see the term ‘pure heart’ in many places throughout the scriptures. Quite famously in the Beatitudes, where Yeshua tells us in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” 



Homework: Word Study on Pure Heart

I think we all know how God feels about oaths and dishonest speech. He is pretty clear in Proverbs 6:16-19 "These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren."


Let’s read Psalm 15. It speaks about the different qualities one must possess to dwell in God’s tent and on His holy mountain. This particular Psalm is often used as a type of eulogy, expressing the ideal human qualities that assure the deceased a place in the afterlife.


Psalm 15  "A Psalm of David. LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."


Pretty hefty qualifications, huh? I don’t know about you, but I am definitely off the path. We cannot achieve these character qualities by sheer will or by our own strength, it is God who works these things out in us. However, that does not mean you are not responsible to do something to get there. Let’s talk about some of the tools I mentioned earlier. The tools that can help us walk in the strength of character needed to reach the summit.

 

Tools/Gear:

Find your own favorite verses for these tools. I have inserted a few that I like.

·  Sound Mind: Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 3:2, 1 John 1:9, 2Timothy 1:7, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 John 4:4, Philippians 4:8

 

· Strength: Isaiah 40:29, Psalm 119:28,  Ephesians 6:10, Isaiah 40:31, Mark 12:30, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Psalm 46:1, Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 22:19, Psalm 28:7-8, Psalm 118:14, Isaiah 12:2, 33:2, 40:29-31, Habakkuk 3:19, Ephesians 3:16

 

· Endurance: Romans 5:3, Hebrews 10:36, James 1:2-3, Colossians 1:11, Romans 12:12, 1 Corinthians 10:13-14, Philippians 4:13, Romans 15:5, James 1:25, Romans 15:13, , Romans 2:7

 

· Study: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 3:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:15, Deuteronomy 11:18-23, Psalm 119:18, Acts 17:11, Romans 12:2, sound mind

 

·         Pray: Joel 1:14

 

·         Fasting: Acts 14:23, Joel 1:14

 

·         Worship: Psalm 95:6, Romans 12:1

 

·         Gathering together/ Fellowship: Hebrews 10:24-25, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:25

 

·         Training: 2 Timothy 3:17, Proverbs 4:1-13, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16

 

·         Proper Nourishment: Proverbs 3:1-8

 

·         Hearkening the voice of our guide, The Father: John 8:47, Psalm 25:4-5

 

Take a moment to ask The Creator to show you which of these tools you need to spend more time mastering.



Feel like you may be off the path or on the WRONG path? Ever feel like you could use a “RESET” button? I am feeling the need right now. Well, we don’t have a button, but we can do a reset of sorts, and these next 7 weeks during the counting of the Omer is a great time to begin, regardless of the reason for the reset. You can direct the focus of your prayer and devotional time over the next 7 weeks in countless ways. I will now share with you a traditional way used by our Jewish friends during the omer count.


Each week has its own theme. These 7 themes comprise the 7 aspects of God or the seven emotional attributes. You can focus on the theme for all 7 days of each week, maybe it’s your prayer focus, maybe it’s a word study, and maybe it’s actual action. It’s your time, make it your own. However, I would encourage you to keep a journal or some other tracking method during this time. It will be of great encouragement to you to be able to look back and see the journey.



(1) Chesed, "kindness" (Loving Kindness)

While the drives of the body are towards oneself, those of the soul are directed outwards towards others. We love those to whom we give because they validate our spirituality. We see our highest self-reflected in them.


(2) Gevurah, "strength" or "empowerment" (Justice & Discipline)

Specifically this refers to empowering one's soul to overcome the obstacles that stand before it. We have the capacity to live for the sake of our goals, and to make sacrifices to attain it. The ultimate goal of every Jew is to be a source of light. In order to do this, we must submit our egos and desires to the scrutiny of God's Torah.


(3) Tiferet, "beauty" (Harmony & Compassion)

Beauty is created through harmony and contrast ― that is when we make a "match." When we become people of truth, our words, thoughts, and deeds match. Only humans can lie. The reason for this is that only humans have the possibility of creating themselves in a certain sense. To use the words of the Maharal of Prague, “we give birth to ourselves.” When we lie we succumb to our animalistic desire for comfort and ease. When we tell the truth, we reconnect to Gods transcendental reality and chose to be authentic as humans.


(4) Netzach, "infinity" (Endurance)

Anyone who has ever resisted the desire for immediate gratification has touched this quality. It is the source of hope and aspiration towards growth.


(5) Hod, "gratitude" (Humility)

In Hebrew, hod is a noun which literally means "splendor," but as a verb means both "to confess" and "to thank." As humans we can be moved by splendor whether its source is spiritual or physical. Our ability to be truly sensitive in this sense is what inspires us to express gratitude. We often resist allowing ourselves to be grateful because of the fragility of our self-esteem. When we begin the day with the words Modeh Ani, ”I thank you,” we express gratitude towards God, and simultaneously see ourselves as creations that are worthy of life.


(6) Yesod, "foundation" (Bonding)

This refers to our ability to bond. It is called "foundation" because it is the very foundation of all interactions. What we ultimately seek in relationships is goodness. Inevitably, if we had to choose one trait in a prospective spouse, it would be a spiritual one. For some of us it would be compassion, for others honesty or sensitivity. If we see our own goodness mirrored back to us, we love the person even more. What this tells us is that what we are seeking is in the final analysis, spiritual bonding. We are searching for the face of God.


(7) Malchut, "kingship" (Sovereignty & Leadership-Nobility)

It refers to our ability to bring God's kingdom into being in the greater world and into our own hearts. The way we do this is through the recognition that our missions are of infinite significance; at the same time we retain the humility that comes as a result of knowing what a tiny piece of infinity we can individually call our own.


The commandment to count the omer is one of the more curious prescriptions of the Torah. We are told to count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot even though the number of days never changes. Therefore, it is very much an effort in which the process is in and of itself a value.



The word for "number" in Hebrew is mispar. Its root is closely related to the word for "story" ― sipur. What is the relationship between the two?


A collection of events becomes a story ― as opposed to a random anthology of events ― when there is a beginning in which the characters are introduced, a middle in which conflict takes place, and an end in which there is resolution. Our lives flow by so quickly that we frequently lose awareness of the awesome power of our own stories. The metamorphosis of today into tomorrow is subtle enough for us to lose consciousness of beginnings and ends.

The commandment to count teaches us mindfulness. It re-opens our hearts to hearing stories. And what story is being told? ~Rebetzin Tziporah Heller, Aish.com


The story being told is YOUR story, MY story, OUR story, the story of The Expedition of Our Lives!


Just like we anticipate reaching the 50th day of the omer, we look forward to reaching the top of the mountain. As we move along on our journey there will be many joyous times and difficult times. Times that we will be stretched beyond what we think we can reach. We must keep pressing onward, climbing higher and higher, following the voice of our guide, The Creator, up the mountain, all the way to the summit.


Along the way, take time to be present at every event and moment. Make sure that your to-do list is authored by God. Don’t rush blindly through your day, going from task to task, barely noticing the things happening around you. Slow down, smell the flowers, spend time with loved ones, and be all YOU were created to be. Allow God to lead you along your life journey; the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot have the spiritual potency to give us the ability to let our stories unfold. We can make every day count and emerge more human than we ever could have imagined.


 

About Me:

Tina Fallstead is a wife and mother whose passion is to enable other women to become all that the Creator has created them to be. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation and is excited to be on the path of learning the ways of her ancestors. She and her husband are blessed to lead a congregation in their community called The Way of Life Ministries. Tina has recently launched a women's ministry called Geulah Gals, focused on 'Hastening the Geulah through serving the community alongside our sisters.


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