I’ve been doing more running lately, in preparation for a half marathon – if I get the nerve to register. I’m concerned about a lot of things in reference to this decision, perhaps first and foremost, my ability to endure. A friend told me one sure path to develop endurance is to run up hills. Not sure who created such foolishness, but it does seem to have a bit of truth to it, dare I admit. However, as I approach the hill, everything in me is screaming, “Retreat, Retreat, Abort!” Seriously, who signs up for difficulty? A simple enough question, yet the ramifications are endless.
When I’m not running, I’m on a university campus wearing one hat of working in a space for students who’ve been victims of sexual violence. No matter how outdated and untrue the belief, statements such as, “What was she wearing?,” “Was she drinking?,” and “How well did she know him?,” persists way beyond what we should be asking, “What right does the person have to use their power and control to inflict pain on someone else?” Admittedly a stretch of an example to what I’m suggesting, but the reality is no matter the steps that lead up to difficulty, there still remains hope to move beyond and enact in the lyrics of Yolanda Adams, “sight beyond what you see.”
Hills, mountains, difficulty require a similar regimen, the ability to continue tackling it no matter what. A mountain is a mountain, so singing, “I’m coming up on the rough side of the mountain” will do one no good. All sides are rough. All sides require more exertion than perhaps one believes is possible in our personal reservoir. All sides have narratives of people who were not only navigating rough terrain, but carried on their person, additional weight, thereby making the climb that more difficult. Despite the heaviness of the load, as believers, we can take comfort in Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” To be sure this is good, however, lifting of one’s eyes is not always easy, but thank God that the capability of our help is never changing. The Word did not tell us that his help only comes to enormous trials, or occasionally. It was non prescriptive. That means ant-hill sized up to Mount Everest experiences.
About five weeks ago while traveling abroad with my daughter from Rome to Paris, we flew over the French Alps. I was so excited about being with my daughter and our trip, that I didn’t focus on my discomfort with flying. However, about 18 hours after arrival and a day of sight seeing in Paris, I learned of the tragedy of the plane crash on the French Alps. While my heart cried out for the loss of life, it was also disturbing because the reason for the crash at the time was unknown. While I enjoyed our remaining days in Paris, inside my head were feelings of fear, uncertainty and worry at the thought of boarding a plane and traveling over those mountains. The situation required “sight beyond what I see.” I needed my “help!” The flight between Paris and Rome is about two hours, and that is how long I prayed, cried, worshiped, sang music and meditated on the Lord. I thank God for the mental health of the pilots and that no one was harmed during the flight! Just as my worship regimen sustained me over what was perhaps a difficult mountain, it’s the same regimen that I must enact daily no matter the size. At the time of the boarding, the reasoning as to why the plane crash occurred was not determined. Let me go further, when I boarded the plane to return to the States, I still didn’t know. It wasn’t until days later after returning to the States and going to work that I learned what happened. This is no different from life.
We do not always know the root cause of occurrences, but we must demonstrate the posture of faith and keep moving despite what we see or the information we are privy to. Psalms 90:2 reads, “Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Our experiences do not take God by surprise. Judges 5:5 tells us that the mountains quake at the presence of God! That means that we have the ability to carry God with us as we tackle the mountains of life. Furthermore, if we read further in Psalms, we learn in 97:5, that the mountains melt like wax at the presence of God. God has told us he would never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), but I wonder how often we leave him.
Sight beyond what we see can be summed up as faith. Faith develops under construction. God doesn’t have to allow mountains to appear in our journey, but surely we can be curious enough to see what is on the other side. Best thing is, we are not alone. I’d better get registered for that race…