Psalm 37:30-31 NLT
Over in Empire on the Lake Michigan shore, there is this little hill that runs down to the lake. I say little, but it is stinking huge! I have climbed it twice in my life, and I can tell you right now that the last time I did it was just that – the last time. It was the most difficult day at the beach I have ever had.
All the way up that hill you are sliding. It is the literal equivalent of two steps forward and one step back. The sand just will not support 100% of your forward movement, and you keep sliding backward. At first it isn’t so bad, but after your first 30 minutes of climb, it starts to get a little tedious. By the fourth 30 minutes of climb it is downright discouraging!
As you struggle up the dune, your eyes tend to focus at your feet. This gives a very good view of what seems to be the futility of the effort. You see that spot where your foot goes into the sand and how far it slips. That is tough!
Other than the fact that you don’t want to die on that hill – and it feels like you will at some point – you need an encouragement to get you to the top. That is when you need to look in a different direction. Two of them. (Not at the same time unless you can do that weird thing with your eyes)
Look up and see the top of the hill. You are closer than you were a few minutes ago. Progress is being made! It still might feel like you will never get there, but you are still moving forward. Look back and see how far you have come. At first that will feel like nothing, but after some time, it starts to give you a lift to see how far you have gone.
I see the Christian walk as being quite similar. I have a goal, and that is to be like Christ. That, my friends, is a steep goal! I have to look at it honestly and admit that while I will never be as good as Him, the more I climb, the closer I get to Him, and that is what I want. Looking to Christ and fixing my eyes on His example gives me the desire to keep going.
If I take my eyes off Him and focus on my struggle I get discouraged. If I allow that discouragement to build I might not even be encouraged by looking to Him anymore. It’s too much. It’s too hard. I’ll never make it and the struggle is not worth it. That is when I need to look back and see how far He has brought me. I could still be wallowing at the bottom, but by following Him, I am not what I used to be. I’m somewhere in the middle. Not where I want to be, but not farther away from where I don’t want to be.
I have been reading the Psalms lately, and I have been finding a lot of encouragement from the prayers of David. I see a relentless man, committed to knowing God better through prayer. Whether David is enjoying a good season of life or a hard time, he is always reaching out to God. He sees the importance of the balance of looking ahead to the goal, looking down at his current state, and looking back at how far God has carried him. I think that is a defining factor in the relentless life.
As I struggle with life I must not yield to the circumstances I find myself in. Good or bad, those circumstances can pull me from God. If they are too good, I lose sight of my need for Him. I gain too much pride in my own abilities. I can get side tracked and feel like I am still moving forward, but I am not following God any more. If things get bad I can turn inward and feel like God isn’t there at all, He left me and now I am on my own to struggle. I might as well give up.
Only through communication with God will I stay on the path. My feet will still slip because I will lose sight of Him from time to time, but if I am relentless in my journey, I will keep moving forward. I will not veer off the path.
A relentless life for God. That is my desire. I want to grow in His grace and reach out to others to show them what He can do for them as well. Through all of it I want to give God the glory.
How about you? Are you finding yourself on the side of a dune? Slipping and sliding and feeling like there is nothing that you can do? We all do at times. I hope this has been an encouragement to someone out there. If so, I would love to hear from you!
In HIS Grip,