This post is linked up to:
1 Chronicles 29: 14 – 19
“But me—who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand. As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place! I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface—you want us, our true selves—and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now see all these people doing the same, giving freely, willingly—what a joy! O God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you.
The other day, I went running and when I met yet another hill, instead of meeting it with dejection, I found myself returning to the Scripture: “using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival” (Luke 16: 8-9, The Message). And as this Scripture’s truth took root within me, as I placed one foot in front of the other, I found myself smiling at the beauty of the challenge and finally trusting my husband’s advice to climb the hill on my tiptoes, taking little strides and stretching my body upwards, instead of slumping downwards.
Despite the exhaustion from more than 40 minutes of running through the dunes, I found my body responding to the words of my husband because I finally believed he had given this repeated advice to help me. Previously I had found myself trapped in distrust because I let my experience of physical exhaustion tell me my body was incapable of the extra exertion of stretching upwards, rising to my tiptoes and taking extra strides by increasing their frequency. As my mind turned to see “adversity” as a beautiful and exhilarating challenge, rather than a punishment designed to showcase my failure, so fresh hope and life breathed into my body and spirit, enfusing them with the physical strength to conquer the hill before me.
This experience of exchanging distrust for trust, hopelessness for hope, exhaustion for fresh strength, has been opening my eyes to how God yearns to breathe new life into our tired and aching bodies and spirits. It has been reminding me how the insurmountable hills are placed on our path to remind us of His Love for us. For it is the hills of exhausting grief, rejection, hurt, anxiety and fear that drive us to the ends of ourselves. And it is here we stand before the choice:
- to trudge on dejectedly, “shuffling and stumbling” (Psalm 112), ignoring the cries from our body, mind and spirit, or
- to heed the cries from the depths of us that carry a yearning for full surrender into Hope, Life and Strength: the Word and Spirit of a Heavenly Father, who stands waiting for us with outstretched arms.
Oh how often I choose to shuffle and stumble because I choose to see the hill as proof of His punishment, rather than proof of His yearning to enfold me in His arms. And yet it is in the leaning on, feeling safe and becoming confident in Him, this trusting of who His Word says that He is, that my mind, body and spirit are opened up to be filled. And in this filling, He gives me “wings like eagles” to surmount any and every “adversity” on my path, to take that one step further, when my human strength and human mind tells me it is impossible.
Father God, teach me to trust You, to meet every hill you place on my path in the knowledge that You have set me before it to show me the depths of Your Love. Let me listen to the cries of my body, mind and spirit, let me see them as Your Invitation to still to hear Your Voice: Your Spirit Infused Word. Let me lean into You in full confidence, in the belief that You are my Rock, My Shelter, My Hope, My very Life itself. Let me answer the yearning of Your Heart, by turning toward you and falling into Your outstretched arms, trusting that You’ll catch me, fill me and set me back on the path you have prepared for me. And let me then take the little steps forward, strengthened by Your Word, up the exhilarating and life-giving hill to the glory and growth of Your Kingdom.
Isaiah 40: 27 – 31
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.