I’m a runner…and what I mean by that is actually more like jog-wheezing. What is jog-wheezing, you ask? It’s a very highly skilled art in exercize…you know…run a little bit, then walk, run a little bit, then walk, etc. (Although, to my credit, the distance and time part is starting to outgain the walking/wheezing part!)
I love the trail by where I live. It starts in a neighborhood, but then twists back beside a beautiful willow tree adorned pond and then disappears back into the woods. Further back towards the woods, the path leads you to a fork in the road.
If you take a certain tine and follow it far enough down, you eventually hit a part of the trail that nestles behind tall grasses. It curves around until it is out of sight and ends where a bridge used to be. On days off (provided there is no wet snow or rain) or early summer evenings, this is where you’ll find me.
I love to meet the Lord here because it is hidden, rarely a person ventures back there, and it is sprinkled with sounds of nature…nothing else…except His presence.
Now to get to this sanctuary of beauty and stillness, you have to go up a few hills.
Running down-hill is easy, even along flat ground…but I noticed today that when I get to the hills, 9 times out of 10 I slow the pace to a walk.
We tend to do that in life…as long as things are easy and smooth sailing with no obstructions, we glide right along.
But when life gets difficult; a struggle plops itself right smack dab in the middle of our path, we slow our pace or even come to a complete stop. We wheeze our way through as if we would rather die than face our struggle. We say things like, “I can’t believe this is happening!”, “I’ll never get through this!” or better yet, “Why do I have to go through this?”.
But sometimes it’s that very struggle that leads us to a place of peace. Sometimes the hill is circumstantial, sometimes the hill is the aftermath of the actions of another person, sometimes the hill is a self-imposed consequence of our own actions, and sometimes the hill is simply an opportunity from God as if to say, “Come on, I am going to use this to grow and train you for the purposes to which I have called you”…and when God allows those hills (regardless of cause) they are always for the good. For building strength, maturity, integrity and character that will ultimately lead to His glory.
And through it all, He promises to be right there beside us, ahead of us, behind us, all around us; guiding us, helping us, keeping our feet from slipping and most importantly offering that Sovereign companionship along the way.
” The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
Downhill is a piece of cake; even taking the “alternate route” around that mountain can misleadingly seem more appealing. But, seriously, how many times do you want to go around that mountain when the promised land is just a stone’s throw away? As a wise (and surprisingly comical) monk once advised, “You must work through the desert to get to the healing. No way around it.”
No doubt, those hills can be rough…but they lead to beauty inside and out.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” – Hebrews 12:1-3