When Life Challenges Us

the hikerThe one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense. (Proverbs 12:11)

 When have you wanted to give up but persevered?

What were the consequences of a time you gave up?

When you have persevered, what was your motivation? Why did you do it?

The quick and easy route seems so much more appealing than the winding, hilly, rocky one. We think we want as few obstacles in our way as possible. But don’t they make the journey all that more worthwhile? That’s not to say we should seek obstacles and hope they get in our way. The seems-to-be-insurmountable will rise ahead of us whether we want it to or not. We don’t have to fabricate it.

When I speak, sometimes family members come along. On a particular trip years ago, my husband and youngest daughter went to Colorado with me. They had some adventures while I was at a conference. When I got done, I wanted at least one day to do some hiking in the Rockies. I chose a shorter, less challenging hike than I might have tried on my own, but we soon learned that it was a bit more challenging than our daughter could face. When we could see our destination, but it was nearly straight up a rocky incline, my exhausted daughter sat down and declared she didn’t think she could make it. It upset her, because she knew it was my only chance to hike during that trip, but I assured her it was okay with me to head back down the mountain. We had accomplished a lot. Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. Sometimes finishing well includes knowing when to turn back.

We rested for a while before she suddenly stood up and began to scamper up the mountainside. She didn’t answer our questions about whether or not she was sure she wanted to continue, and we couldn’t keep up with her. She was waiting for us at the top and said, “I had to give it one more try.” We applauded her for persevering. We explored the top of the ridgeline and enjoyed the view for quite a while before heading down. The view wasn’t nearly as breathtaking as the change I noticed in my daughter when she stood at the top. Sometimes our determination is plain stubbornness that can potentially get in our way or become counterproductive. Other times, it cultivates healthy growth that changes us.

Take a walk today, or ride a bike. Do something that challenges you. Go a little farther or a little faster. Consider what your daily choices reveal about your persistent spiritual cultivation.

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