Perseverance Takes Us Higher
I cringed a little this morning as I looked at my calendar and saw today was blog day. I didn't feel like writing, especially about the topic God had laid on my heart. Then, my husband texted me the Holy Bible app's verse of the day and it was confirmed that I needed to write this blog today.
I had what we'll call an interesting weekend. Friday was a perfect day; everything went as planned...until it didn't. We decided to take a mini road trip to visit my husband's family for the weekend, and everything was going pretty smoothly until we stopped at the halfway point for dinner. We discovered that our baby had an ill-contained diaper. I won't go into all the nasty details, but all three of us had to change clothes. I let that one minor event tank my positivity....little did I know that my positivity was about to take another hit. Once we arrived at the house we rented, we put down the baby for the night and unloaded the car. It was pretty late and I was already concerned that our baby wasn't going to get enough sleep to enjoy (and allow us to enjoy) all the birthday festivities the following day. About 45 minutes after we put him down, he awoke. It quickly became a horrific night in which we changed about 10 diapers and slept maybe 2 hours. Thankfully, my husband and I are still married, but we were definitely at each other's throats all night - no sleep, a screaming baby, and smelly diapers will do that to a marriage. Through the chaos of the night, I kept telling my husband that it would be better if we just got in the car and drove home with the baby - that the weekend wasn't worth what we were going through. I couldn't handle the pressure being placed on me in that moment. The next day wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. The baby napped well and played well, and we really enjoyed our time with family and made some sweet memories.
Does anyone else have the tendency to cut and run when the going gets tough? Flight has always been my instinct when life gets difficult and things don't go according to my plan (it never does...you'd think I'd get used to it). James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." (NIV). Perseverance means "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement." I don't push myself in exercise classes, much less in painful life circumstances wrought with discouragement. I know that one sleepless night sounds trivial; and, in the grand scheme of life, it is. But, it was a small mountain I had to face. Maybe your mountain is more monumental - a marriage that God doesn't want you to give up on, or a child struggling with addiction that needs the faith and prayers of his family to carry him to the top of the mountain. Whatever the mountain that you face today or tomorrow (for we all face one at some point), let us remember a few things about the mountain when we stand at its base, intimidated by its enormity; and, let us focus on the reward that lies ahead.
1. The mountain gives us fresh perspective.
We went hiking in Canada a few years ago. Such an incredible experience and I want to go back! The mountains there are monumental; it's like they put Miracle Gro on them or something. The trails were long and very steep, and my legs were incredibly sore. But, once we reached the top of the mountain, we gained a fresh perspective on what we had just endured. We could look down and see every twist and turn of the trail that brought us to the place we stood. We could see how it all worked together to bring us to the peak. When you stand victoriously on the top of a mountain and look back over where you've come from, you realize how trivial all the pain was to get there and how it was all worth it. And, because you conquered one mountain, you are more likely to not back down or give up when you stand at the foot of other mountains. You've been there before and know the reward that lies ahead. An eternal perspective puts the risk in the right perspective.
2. The mountain builds our strength in God.
Since I had my baby, I have held deep respect for all moms. Even the worst mom on her worst day still went through pregnancy and child birth, and I applaud her for that. About six months after I had our baby, I was doing something around the house and struggling with it, and my husband looked at me and said, "Olivia, you're a mom; you can do anything." I've never felt so empowered! The mountains I had faced and scaled had made me stronger. I never could have overcome some of the things I've faced recently if I had encountered them fifteen years ago. Each experience and every trial built upon the next, making me stronger. How? Because through each and every trial, I clung to Jesus. He brought me through. In my own strength, I will fail every time. But, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
3. The mountain brings us closer to God.
I've talked at length about the miscarriage I had a few years ago and the aftermath of dealing with the emotions and reality of the situation. I've also shared at length about how that tragedy brought me closer to God. When you've endured the pain of whatever God has asked you to go through, and when you've reached the top of the mountain where you can look down on everything that brought you to that place, your faith in the God who saw you through it all is made stronger and your relationship with Him grows deeper and more intimate. Trials will always bring us closer to God if we choose to cling to Him in the midst of the pain because His character is proven time and time again. When I was standing on top of the mountain in Canada, an intense wave of gratitude to God overwhelmed me. There I was, standing on this beautiful, snow-capped mountain, looking down across God's magnificent creation, and I was in awe of the God who made it all and allowed me to stand victoriously on that mountain. The God who never left me when the trail got steep, who never failed me when my strength waned, who always carried me to higher peaks and called me deeper still.
What mountain is God asking you to scale? I know it seems grand and impossible, "but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26, ESV). With God. We're not on this journey alone. God is right beside us every step of the way, carrying us when our strength gives way and encouraging us when we choose to press into Him. We don't need to focus on the size of the mountain; we need to focus on the size of our God.
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