Thursday, October 18, 2007

Keeping On

Keeping On
By John Fischer

Life is difficult. Nothing worth anything is easy to come by.

I’ll never forget my first backpacking experience. I was 21 years old and hiking with a group of experienced high school students. I had never heard of this sport. We climbed over 3,000 feet the first day to get over a pass at 11,000 feet. Of course I had no idea how elated I was going to be reaching the top of the mountain and descending down the other side to a pristine High Sierra lake in the wilderness untouched by anyone other than backpackers on foot. All I could think of for the excruciating last two hours of that first ascent was what on earth was I doing this for? Barely managing one foot in front of the other, focused only on the pack of the kid in front of me, we slowly made our way up above the timberline through gravel and shale that made you slip back every few steps ‘til it felt like you were taking two steps back for every one step forward. I knew nothing of the reward; I knew only to keep going—keep pushing through the pain of adding 35 pounds to my weight, and testing the muscles in my back, legs and lungs that had not been used to this kind of demand. But how all that changed when we reached the top!

A lot of our spiritual journey is the same way. Obedience sometimes seems like nothing but hard work. We keep on moving forward—keep on believing—even when we have no clue how much farther we have to go or what’s on the other side. But I have noticed one encouraging thing about this. My subsequent experiences of backpacking were easier to endure once I knew what was waiting for me on the other side of the mountain. A few rewards of faith under your belt will go a long way towards giving you the courage to believe again, even in testing times.

Once you have believed God and found his faith to be real and full of actual substance in the midst of demanding circumstances, it makes it easier to believe him again when a new trail challenges us. So whether you are on this trail for the first time or the umpteenth time, keep your eyes fixed on the goal and your feet moving one in front of the other, even if you slip back from time to time. It will all be worth it (and much of the pain forgotten) on the other side.

“Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good” (James 5:11).

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