Worth the climb…

…don’t give up, the climb is worth the view…

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Before departing Macedonia, I’d agreed to go on a hike with one of my teammates. It was planned for the morning of our departure. At first, I was glad to have one last opportunity to see the city from the hilltop. But as preparations were being made to leave, my mind raced, thinking of all the packing, cleaning, and goodbyes yet to be done. I could feel the stress welling up in me… it felt so consuming… how could I drop everything and make time for a morning hike with so much left to do? But, still wanting to see the view and having given my word, I met my teammate at our appointed time.

Walking through the park, up the hill where the trail began, my mind kept recounting last minute details… Did I remember to pack all my toiletries? Will I need to go to the market for any snacks? Are my phone and laptop chargers packed?

Meanwhile, my friend led the way along the narrow, steep, canopied path. It was a beautiful day…! The sun barely peaking over the hillside, birds singing, hardly anyone on the trail… Too nice for me to be grumbling…! Again and again, I prayed that I could be present in this moment… Again and again, I could hear my heart grumbling, this hike better be worth it… the view better be spectacular…!

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Rounding the bend at the crest of the hill, I was in awe… The view of the city below was truly magnificent! And there was a little wooden bench beside the path, perfect for a mini-rest to enjoy the view. In that moment, I was overcome… humbled… overcome by the breathtaking view… humbled because I’d spent a good portion of the trail grumbling to God…

Sitting on the bench, my friend and I reflected on our month of ministry… For me, it had been a difficult month… There were dark things my soul had wrestled with… It was only by God’s grace and His steady Hand that I had made it to this moment… Tears began to fall down my cheeks as I felt overwhelmed by His faithfulness… I began to pray with my friend, thanking and praising God… apologizing for my wayward, stubborn heart…

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Looking out over the valley, the climb was well worth leaving my “important” tasks behind… I had been given a broader view… my frenzied self was re-grounded, calmed by God’s presence and love…

I’ve been discovering that life is a lot like that hike… There are so many tasks that compete for our attention and devotion… Family, friends, work, church responsibilities… It’s difficult to get away to find the calm… In our dog-eat-dog world, it’s tough to see the value in it…

Not to mention, the hike of life seems difficult enough… the incline is steep, we cannot ascertain what the next bend will bring, whether it’ll be shaded or find a rattlesnake in our path… We want ease…

As a kid, I thought following Jesus would be easy… Do what He wants, abide by His rules, and He’ll reward you with blessings and provide safety for you, protection to be unworried by the happenings of this world…

But, that’s not so… Following Jesus isn’t easy… Keeping the faith, walking with Him has been one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life… As life has thrown me some unexpected curveballs, even my deepest held, most dear beliefs have been challenged…

But I know the hike is worth it…

And so, to you, friend, don’t give up…! Jesus has promised not only that the climb will be difficult, but that it will be well worth it… He knows our troubles… In fact, He promised that we’d see our fair share…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”*

So, just as we’ve experienced the trouble He promised, how much more can we count on the rest of His promises??

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”**

And so, if you find yourself sore from the climb, doubting whether it is worth it, remind yourself that it is… Take time to be alone with Jesus… Let Him renew your spirit and revive your soul…

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”***

And find others with whom you can hike… You are not alone!

“Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”****

“So, do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”*****

*John 16:33

**John 14:2-3

***Isaiah 40:30-31

**** Peter 5:8-9

*****Hebrews 10:35

pc: Sarah Coffey, (except the one I’m in is by Darek Hollis), Bitola, Macedonia 2016

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