Story of a not-so-avid hiker
Any writer, artist, dancer or actor will tell you that most art comes from pain. Not that I am trying to create the next artistic masterpiece. But this story has a huge amount of pain. The pain is mostly confined to my calves and chest. Also like all stories, this one has an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
So a few weeks ago I decided that it was time. Time to take my health and exercise to a new level, or well at least to an existing level. So in an attempt to do this, I decided to organise a hike. Now if you don’t know me you can speak to the people who do know me, hiking is as far removed from me, as calculus is removed from a 5-year-old. But up I went…
So even more backstory I haven’t exercised at all over the last year like nada. The last time I did anything like this was December 2014. I also have never liked a gym. Well the gym itself is quite interesting the difficult thing was me exercising part….so I think you get it, I literally repel exercise.
Upon starting this group I thought the weekend ahead would be awesome. I have ventured up Jonkershoek and my flatmate gave a slightly misinformed view of the steepness of the mountain before me. So this morning I was amped, I got up, bought all the things I needed and found my way walking up the mountain.
Soon after starting, the burn erupted at the base of my calves. I then decided to push forward at a foolish pace and found myself deeply regretting. I inevitably reached the first point of Stellenbosch and then decided to abandon my group and head back.
On the way down the Lord reminded me of a few things I knew and taught me a few new ones. Here they are.
As was walking up and my chest was contracting my knees were buckling and I felt like sure doom was around the next bend. Everything in me shouted Why? Why did I do this? Why is this hill so steep. Why are the people walking so damn fast? and How the hell do they do it!
Our lives are often compared to a mountain. The challenges we face are the peaks of these mountains. Going through these challenges seem unfair, unhelpful and sometimes stupid. Sometimes, you are like me, your choices, like my choice to climb the mountain, put you in these places and then ask Lord can’t you help? Can’t you just take the pain away and make this mountain flat.
After hiking up the mountain (well part of it at least) the one thing that keeps drifting forward is perseverance. It reminds of scripture in Peter.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 2 Peter 1:5–6 NIV
I am not part of the school that believes God brings bad things but persevering through this thing build character. I am part of the school that believes God can redeem any bad situation and work it for your good!
So back to my mountain even though I almost died. I am very glad I did it I feel like I accomplished something. I proved to myself I can push past places of hurt and frustration.
Even for those who going through growing periods like this scripture says it builds godliness. When we go through a period of growth it is often paired with times of difficulty and discomfort. We struggle in these times and want them over. Forgetting that growth is hard.
I went up this mountain to get fit and to become stronger. It was not easy!
So point 1. Why you are on the mountain doesn’t matter it matters that you keep going persevering past times of difficulty
Another fatal flaw was the fact that my pace was completely wrong I was keeping up with people who run marathons and go jogging. (The one thing I a secretly very envious of) Not that it is their fault but doing things at a pace that is not your own often ends in disaster.
Getting married to someone when you don’t have peace just because of your that age and its what you are supposed to do.Taking a Job without divine peace just because you think it is what is supposed to do.
Living at a pace that is not Defined by God will leave you in want. Christians often forget that we are not in a race it is not about how quickly you become a small group leader or how quickly you join the worship team. God knows what is in your next season and His pace is best for you protection and security
So point 2. Let God define you pace
Coming down from Stellenbosch mountain there is this one area that is quite steep and has a few rocks. After reaching the first point I decided to turn back. So while my friends were heading up I was taking the slippery climb down. Now to honour my friends I did slightly sneak off. So no one could offer to come down with me…
This slippery slope was scary…I was playing scenes from movies in my mind where people tumbled into eternity. Going down there I thought if I just had someone to show me where to put my feet.
How often do you find yourself in this situation? Well, hopefully, you aren’t dangling off cliffs that often. However, we find ourselves at places like these quite frequently. We have to make decisions about our futures, we experience loss. We just don’t know how to go on.
At these places, the humanity inside of us screams out for someone to help. Yet, how often do we reject the discipleship of others? How often do get irate with anger when asked to join a small group or even just to become part of the church family.
God has created these structures and places for us to find these people but we shove God’s design aside.
I feel the need to clarify. I am not saying that churches haven’t made mistakes I am also not making excuses for the injustices the church has brought upon humanity. The fact, however, remains that God did create a church. Humans came and because of their humanity made mistakes. Does that make the design flawed? I highly doubt that. The church will most likely make a few more mistakes. Your local church probably has some flaws. So let me say this there is no such thing as a perfect church because there is no such thing as a perfect person.
Point 3. Join in! Get connected to a church family and get the discipleship and friendship you need!
On the way up the mountain, the one thing that caught me was very weird. It wasn’t my calves or my lungs but rather my back. I wasn’t carrying a backpack either… Those of you who know better will be able to give me more clarity on why hiking hurts my lower back.
My uneducated guess is my posture and the way I compensate when my other muscle groups feel too challenged.
Our posture in life often determines how we live our life, if we succeed in life and lastly how we view God.
If you have the posture of the older son in Luke 15 you will think that you have to work for everything and earn God’s favour. You won’t be able to share in the abundant grace that he has for you. If your posture is one of overwhelming grace and a do-as-i-want attitude you will experience much hurt and pain and will not necessarily share in all the blessing God has for you.
I know the only way to address my posture issues is to speak to someone who knows how my body works and who knows how different exercises affect my body. The same way when we are spiritually in the wrong posture we need to sit with the Lord and allow him to realign our posture
Point 4. Spend time with the Lord and allow him to constantly realign your posture
The one big thing that struck me coming down was, that the inclines that felt everlasting and super steep weren’t actually that bad and with a better pace and a better posture, I could most likely have made a little further than I did.
God promises us that he will not challenge us beyond what we can handle. Keeping that perspective in our lives reminds us on the way up what I only saw on the way
Final Point. Keeping our focus on what God has said and promised keeps our perspective correct and helps us conquer those mountains