The following is a column submitted to our local paper. I am so blessed and encouraged by the chance to be the monthly Faith columnist for the Wagener Monthly. Below is a story about your not so typical mountain hike and my sweet friend who got me thinking about fear in regards to the big things God equips us for…if we’ll just try.
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” Gail Devers
The fact that God orchestrates the events of our lives is phenomenal to me. Not so much in the big things; but in the small. I especially find it amazing the way God uses people we encounter: their words, their struggles, just conversations about their days and their plans. When this happens, I stop and say to myself, “there’s a lesson here, this is something I need, and this is an area God knows I am struggling with.” I wonder if God knows we lack true understanding and connection from just reading His word or praying, so he uses people, he uses their words. He strings people and things together in a pattern, a thread. Finally, he has our attention; we pause to think about our lives in relation to His plans for us.
My friend Diana has overcome her lack of motivation towards better health just by beginning to walk consistently. She completed her first 5K and now she is planning to travel out West for an intense mountain hike at Yosemite! When she talks about her climb she is excited; but, she’s also anxious about the unknown. She’s afraid of heights. She’s afraid she won’t make it to the top. She’s afraid it’s more than she can do. Although she’s prepared in every way from the proper shoes and clothing to nutrition and who will care for her children, she is still walking around with the “I don’t know if I can” thoughts in her head. So, I ‘ve been thinking about her and her mix of excitement and doubt, wondering “could I climb a mountain or would I choose to stay where it’s safe, letting my fear and doubt keep me where I am”?
Last Sunday, my pastor Chris Addy closed his sermon with Jeremiah 29:11: I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I love this verse because it compels us to seek God’s way of life. It’s also a very reassuring word that clearly says we should not worry; God has a plan for us. Until this past Sunday, I never considered the part about my future, the blessings, the successes, the God-designed rewards that are there for me. Makes you wonder why we don’t just all walk around excitedly anticipating our futures instead of living in the worried and anxious state of “what if”. Yes, we can be confident and unafraid; but, more important; we have a future when we face challenges with God, when we push ourselves towards the prize, our climb, our journey upward with God…to God and his best for us.
Later that day, I read from my In Touch devotional. I find Dr.Charles Stanley to be a biblical scholar and a “matter of fact” preacher who takes to heart his calling to motivate Christians to draw near and stay near to God. I skimmed the devotional, stopping at an article entitled “Made for The Mountain”. I thought of my friend, Diana and her upcoming Yosemite climb then began to read the words exhorting me to “Go higher!” Don’t we all just want to stay where we feel safe? That place of safety we call being satisfied with our Christian walk is so much less than what God has for us; but, we stay there never knowing what God has for us if we don’t move forward, upward to sense the fulfillment, the purpose, the future God has for us…his plans for good.
Is there something you long to accomplish, something that nourishes your soul with excitement, something that feels uniquely yours alone? Is it so personal or so seemingly unachievable that you think, “Oh, that’s not possible for me.” yet, you wonder if you could? Step out and upward, allow God to take you to a place of blessing you never thought possible, the place of your future, of your hope.