When was the last time you attempted something really hard? I have been in the midst of learning one of the most challenging things I have ever learned and I hit a wall today. So in that place I chose to remember another time I needed encouragement.
Two years ago I decided to take a hike at Young Life Camp. Because we live in West Tennessee most of that hiking is easy. I knew NOTHING about this trail except that some of the campers ran it for exercise so I was not too concerned. I just wanted to be on the mountain trail.
The cool fall weather and the gorgeous leaves (not to mention the complete quiet) were not disappointing. Even the acorns were beautiful. I thrive in the mountains and was soaking it all in. The first 20 minutes were fantastic. Everything about the time was wonderful.
The grade slightly began to increase. I was excited to think I was getting closer to the top. I saw signs that marked one mile and then two. Surely I was getting close.
Then the grade increased even more. The acorns that were beautiful were now slippery to maneuver. I was having to pay attention to my steps instead of looking at the leaves. I am not sure that I saw a single bird during that part of the hike.
By the time I saw the 3 mile marker I began to wonder just how far I was going. However, I was determined. I would finish this hike. With every bend I would think it was the last one before the top. The final part of the hike literally felt like I was climbing steps the entire time. My out-of-shape-self was truly struggling. Every single step had to be intentional and careful. I made myself keep going. The very last steps were the hardest by far.
The view of the top of the mountain was breathtaking. A hawk was soaring just in front of me as I stood awestruck. Minus still trying to catch my breath. The challenging part of the hike seemed forgotten. I was so glad I came. I was proud of having completed it.
Today I was reminded of that first hike. Not knowing where you are going on a journey and not knowing how long it will take to complete can be freeing or it can be frustrating. Not knowing what you are getting into can also be the grace of God. Realizing that you could be in over your head might keep us from ever starting.
I was floundering on this new trail today. At the point of tears I was reminded that there is a time in certain journeys for dogged determination. There are times when we just have to grit our teeth and keep stepping. I was picturing myself on the last steep steps of that hike and realized that if I had stopped short I would have never enjoyed the view from the summit.
I do not have to compare my journey to anyone else. Although that trail seems like nothing to strong high schoolers who literally ran up it, my journey is not theirs. And things that may seem simple to some of us may be challenging to others. When the monster Comparison tries to steal from us we have to shut them down. when we score a personal victory we need to enjoy it. It is great to rejoice in a personal win!
If you are in the midst of a hard trail I am beside you cheering you on today. Do not give up. The summit will be worth it. if for nothing more than to know you finished! You really can do it. If you feel at the end of yourself just lean into the Lord and know that “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil. 4:13)
What is the mountain in front of you? Have you approached it one way only to realize you might need to come at it from another direction? Have you stumbled on your way and considered turning around?
Then last year I did the hike a second time. I shaved 15 minutes off my time and I noticed I was stronger. The exercise over the year had paid off. I totally enjoyed the entire trip up the mountain. It was much easier having the knowledge I gained the first time.
I passed one group of teenagers doing the hike the second year. They were at the point where the grade had increased and one fellow turned around and headed back down the mountain all by himself. He did not think he could do it. I prayed and prayed for him as I continue?
What about you? Have you headed down the mountain? Even if you are at the bottom, it is not too late. You can see yourself do what you truly desire to do. I believe in you.
I would love to hear your stories. What was your journey like? Did you see the summit? Or did you head back down the mountain? What was your summit? How do you feel about you story today?