|Neuse River- Where I would rest|
About seven miles into my morning bike ride there is a very large hill that takes you up away from the Neuse River and into the open countryside of North Carolina. For the longest time I would make the bottom of this hill my rest stop. This is where I would catch my breath, re-hydrate and turn around for the journey back to my car, giving me a 14 mile ride every morning. At the time, 14 miles seemed good enough. But soon, there was this desire in me to go farther, to go longer, and to reach the top of that hill. When I say hill, I mean more like bluffs, or a very small mountain. At least, that is what it looked like to me. It just loomed there, the trail winding up and up and up, until it disappeared into the trees. I knew that if I wanted to ever go farther than 14 miles, I had to face it. I was going to have to put my excuses behind me and just do it.
Truthfully, that hill intimidated me. The more I looked at it, the more intimidated I got. That intimidation then turned into doubt, which then turned into fear. I began to believe that there was no way this bluff before me was ever going to be conquered. I doubted not only my ability to ride up it, but I began to fear about what might happen if I fell, or if I couldn’t make it to the top. But deep down, I knew that I had to try, it was in the end, the only way to get any farther on my morning rides.
One day I finally found the courage and the determination to face the hill and just do it. So, there I was peddling as hard as I could up the side of this bluff. The struggle that my legs when through was not just painful, but they actually burned from the amount of exertion they had to put out. Every stroke brought more pain, and more burning to my legs and my back. Every time I felt the desire to quit I would begin praying and saying out loud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) Then the strength would come and I would push through the pain and get farther and farther up the hill. Then, in the blink of an eye, there I was at the top of the hill! I was exhausted, but I was also full of inexpressible joy! I had just overcome not only this hill, but the fear that came with it. I was no longer intimidated by its size, because once I got to the top and looked back down; I realized that it was not that big at all. My intimidation had made it seem so much bigger than it really was.
“For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 ESV
Psalm 30:5 ESV
The mountains and hills we face in our lives can be very intimidating, causing us to doubt and fear the promises and power of our God. In our business right now we are facing a very large hill, a mountain that has been looming over us for some time. This hill on my new adventure has been intimidating me day after day. I am stopped at the bottom of it right now, staring up at it, wondering how on earth we are ever going to get to the top. Our next step on this journey God has us on is a building of our own, a facility where we can continue to grow and thrive. This is the hill that stands between me and the promise that God gave us when we started on this journey all those months ago.
Right now, I am still standing at the bottom of it, feeling very intimidated by all the peddling that will be required. It is causing me to question His promise to us in the beginning of this journey, and causing me to doubt His power and strength to get us to the top. I find the longer I stand at the bottom of this hill, the more I doubt Him and His word to me. I know what I must do to overcome this mountain, and I know that through His strength I can overcome all that is before me. I just have to get on my bike and start peddling. It is not going to be easy, there are going to be struggles, my legs are going to burn and I am going to want to give up. But, I must remember that I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. There will be pain, but joy will come in the morning.
Now that I have ridden up the hill on my morning bike rides a few times, I am no longer intimidated by it and I no longer feel the need to stop and rest at the beginning of it. Now, I get on my bike and I go for a few more miles past the hill before I need to rest and re-hydrate. In fact, now I look forward to the hill, not because I have to ride up it, but because now I get to also ride down it! If you have ever ridden a bike down a very big hill, you will understand why I find such great joy in it! The pain and exhaustion that come from riding up the hill is nothing to be compared to the joy of coasting back down it.
|Sunrise- after the hill|
We all have struggles; those hills, bluffs and mountains that are looming over our paths. We can continue to stay at the bottom, looking up at them with intimidation in our hearts, or we can get on our bikes and start peddling. Even though the struggle seems too big, or the mountain seems too tall, we have to just keep peddling, reminding ourselves that we CAN DO ALL things through Christ Jesus our Lord and in the end, after all is said and done, the joy on the ride down is going to make the struggle even more worth it. Weeping may endure for a night my fellow travelers, but joy will come in the morning.
Don’t let the mountain before you limit you, or stop you from going farther on your journey. You have a God who will strengthen you, who will help you get to the top. Don’t let the struggle intimidate you. That hill is not as big as it looks. Keep peddling and let Him be your strength. We will want to give up, we will want to stop, but just keep peddling. There may be pain and struggles today, but there is an abundance of joy waiting for us on the ride back down. So keep peddling my fellow traveler, keep peddling till you reach the top. Amen?