If you look closely—as in turn the photo upside down and squint for ten minutes—you might detect what it took us eighteen laps to spot: a hill. And of course, the moment we laid eyes on it on our fifth day of walking, we felt it. Immediately. Our thighs started to burn; our calves tightened up. We huffed and puffed, though nary a stick moved, let alone the brick on our house.
The next day, as we rounded the turn, Hubby shook his head and pronounced, “Here comes that hill.” Not that he actually spotted it; he only knew where it was. And just like that, our time together in the sun, talking and laughing away from the little people while picking up the occasional acorn and dodging spiderwebs, transformed from a healthy, brisk walk into…(gulp!) exercise.
Much the same way my writing sometimes seems less like ministry and more like (sigh…) work. When I look at my laptop, I think, “Here comes that hill.”
At those moments, I remind myself that work is a blessing from God, not a curse. Exercise conditions the heart; it doesn’t break it. It’s my perspective of the hills in my life that should change, not their presence.
How do I stop focusing on the hills? By looking to the Word who created them.
They come with the territory. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12, 13)
Hills are natural landforms, just as work is a part of life. Even when I face unexpected demands on my time, conflicts, and needs, I can trust God knows what’s waiting around the corner. He will carry me up and over. What unexpected hills has God helped you cross in your calling?
Gird your loins. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
Hubby and I are creaky now. Our knees pop when we stand; we grunt when we bend over. With that in mind, we do some serious stretching before we move these bodies that crave the sofa. In the same way, we faithfully prepare our hearts and minds for the walk of faith so we can be “ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us.” (1 Peter 3:15) How have you readied yourself for the unexpected, practically and spiritually?
Climbing builds muscles. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Platform building ranks right up there with exercise as my “favorite” hill to climb. Yet, both have blessed my heart. I’ve made precious cross-country connections, spread the Gospel, and introduced new readers to my work by stretching myself with social media. What blessings have you experienced by climbing outside your comfort zone?
Your hills ain’t like mine. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Our homeschooling family’s needs are unique, and we have our own way of gettin’ it done and loving on each other. So it is with my writing; my style and manner of loving on my readers are all my own. God also writes my name on my trials, my “hills”—in cursive, in bold, or in all caps—so I need not get confused trying to clamber up someone else’s. And He can always hear me coming. Sometimes I’m running; often, I’m walking; but I’m always on my knees. How have you been gifted by God, in testing and by blessing?
Inclines lead to higher ground. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Sometimes I forget how much I love what I do in the midst of the doing, how blessed I am to write, teach, and live according to His will. It’s during those precious moments at the top of the hill God has taught me to hum, “My soul looks back in wonder, ‘How I got over!” What new songs has your soul learned to sing?
God, creator of a thousand hills and the beasts that roam on them. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)
Maybe you didn’t see it coming. And it may mean adjusting to new demands on your time or learning a new skill, but this unexpected “hill” was uniquely designed by God and placed just so to help you, not hurt you. There’s beauty in learning to say, “I need help. I can’t do this.” It’s then you lean on the God who can. What has been your most painful—and valuable—lesson?
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)