Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV, emphasis mine)
There are few better examples of faith in all of Scripture. Though his eyes do not see victory Habakkuk is going to keep hanging on. And I don’t think this should necessarily be interpreted through our 21st century-everything-is-gonna-work-out-in-this-life lenses either. I think the redemption that Habakkuk is looking for is one that he will not see fully in his own lifetime. Just like us real redemption will be found another day.
In reading through this passage earlier today I noticed something about the text that I have never noticed before. I have not found any commentaries or any other places that have really commented on this and so I’m a tad fearful of throwing out something new fangled that is nothing close to Habakkuk’s meaning. Yet, I will venture on because even if it was clearly shown that this cannot be proven from this verse I believe it’s sound theologically.
Notice in the bold section that Habakkuk says he makes me tread on “my” high places. The use of the possessive there is what caught my attention. Habakkuk did not simply say “high places” but my high places. Habakkuk’s high places may be different than my high places. For some merely lifting your head in the morning and being able to go the grocery store is a great victory and “treading on my high places”. For others their “high place” is far more lofty.
This reminds me of some very wise words by Jared Wilson in his book Gospel Wakefulness:
No two people feel the same way. Some of us are more emotive than others; some are naturally more reserved; some are naturally more excitable…What gospel wakefulness presupposes is that wherever a person tops out emotionally, they do so at the gospel…what should move you most is the reality that Christ died and rose for you. (147-48)
Habakkuk isn’t called to tread on my high places. Gospel-infused faith causes him to tread on his high places not necessarily mine.
We have to minister to people where they are and not necessarily where they ought to be. For some people growth in grace might mean working up enough nerve to make a phone call to order a pizza. For others such a task is nothing close to a definition of treading on high places. Both ought to be celebrated as blood-bought faith!