Walking shoes laced tight, I stand at the bottom of the fog-topped hill. Already I’m weary and I haven’t yet begun the climb. With a sigh, I put one foot in front of the other and I’m on my way to the top.
Halfway up, I find myself breathless with calves and knees complaining, but I’m determined. I must be ready for the race in two weeks, and the hill I will face there is twice as large, twice as steep.
A few feet more and doubts start to creep in about my abilities, about my body’s abilities. And then I remember that persevering isn’t just for the spiritual realm but for this physical world, too, for my straining muscles and my apathetic mindset.
Music pulses through the headphones into my ears…
“Greater things have yet to come,
Greater things are still to be done
in this Ci-tyy-yyy-y”
If I look too far ahead, I see only the fog stretching before me, creating the illusion that the hill stretches on forever. It will never end, I hear the voice in my mind and it grows louder with each step. This weight battle will never end for you. You might as well just give up now. Did you really think you could do this? Do you really believe you will succeed?
I face a choice.
I can listen to my cramping muscles and the voice of that snake, the Enemy, or I can buckle down with God-dependent effort, determined to persevere even in this as long as the Lord allows it. It’s the story of my life, really: keep fighting or give up.
Is there any middle ground between the two?
I hear the chorus again,
“Greater things have yet to come..”
And another voice echos in my mind.
Greater things not just for this city but for you, Daughter. You will reach the top. By my power, you will see success. With My strength, you will persevere. You CAN do this. And greater things will come, but you must fight for it. You must fight the whispers of the Enemy and the desires of the flesh. You must learn to lean on Me, even in this. I will give you the power to persevere.
The fog clears as I near the top and my strength is renewed. When I round the corner and the incline levels off, I feel a sense of relief, but I also want it to be over. I long for rest. However, the walk isn’t finished yet. In fact, it’s only just begun.
I keep plodding ahead, one foot after the other, asking the Father’s glory to be revealed in even this small thing, asking for knees that bend without pain and breath that comes easier. A few blocks later, I realize I’ve come full circle to face the hill again.
But this time, I have faith.
I know I can do it because I’ve done it before, with His help. And no matter how much my body protests, I drag it up the hill once more.
It strikes me then, the connection between the spiritual and the physical. How I often run straight to complaining when I face “hills” in life. I start out grumbling and already thinking about giving up.
Believing I might be able to “power through” until the trial is over if I could just see the finish line, I search the foggy path ahead, eyes straining to see through to the end.
But the end is not for me to see.
What I am given is just a few feet ahead of me.
As long as I focus on those few feet in front of me, I remain strong, but when I look ahead to the stretched out future, my resolve falters.
It’s then that I turn to the Father.
I’m reminded of the prophet Zechariah, faced with the task of encouraging the Jews to rebuild the temple and re-establish themselves in Jerusalem. They faced many obstacles and nay-sayers, as well. In fact, they were just the remnant of the Jews who lived there before, only a few compared to the former.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground…”
In this passage, Zechariah experiences a vision. Through this vision, the Lord Almighty reminds the prophet that the work needing done would happen not by human strength, but by the power of His own hand.
He also promised to give the remnant the power necessary to complete the construction of the temple. Even more than that, He reminded Zechariah of His almighty power to remove any obstacles (mountains) that might get in the way of completion.
Continuing on, verse nine contains a promise that He will complete the work. And the next verse down in that same chapter we read this powerful phrase:
“ Who dares despise the day of small things…?”
According to Nelson’s Quick Reference (Chapter by Chapter Bible Commentary),
“To the eyes of men, the temple project was but a small thing…but to the eyes of God, it was a source of great joy.” (p. 614)
My friends, we will face many hills in life, and mountains will stand in our way. Often, we’ll be tempted to quit before we’ve even really begun. The power to persevere on our own quickly walks out the door when the going gets gruesome.
Zechariah 4:10 is the verse that keeps us going – no step is a small step when God is behind it!
It’s when we turn to Him for strength that never ceases and the will to persevere that we finally hit our stride.
Keeping in mind that He delights in even the small things, small acts of obedience, small steps up a great hill, we cling to that power to persevere.
Even more, those hills that we face can feel like level ground in grip of His grace.
But not by our might,
only by His Spirit.
Sharing this with: Tell His Story, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth
Wow so encouraging! That’s a powerful reminder I needed to hear this morning, “Not by might… but by my Spirit”. Praying for knees this month in your 5K! Good for you! 😀
Thank you, Jasmine! I really appreciate the extra prayer coverage.
Lisa notes says
“It’s the story of my life, really: keep fighting or give up.”
Yes, you speak truth, Jen. I waver between the two on different things, but there really is no middle ground. Praying for your knees to hold you up on this journey, even as they bend to also hold you up on this journey!
I agree, Lisa – no middle ground! Thanks for stopping by and leaving some encouragement here. I’m thankful for the extra prayer coverage, too.
Maria Hass says
Your post describes exactly why I run. I can’t emphasize enough how the 5Ks last year and now the 10K I’m training up for build me spiritually more than it ever has physically. It brings me face to face with God and to pivotal moments of faith crisis: who am I going to believe right now? Which voice dictates my life? Hoorah for this 5K and for your healing, best of luck!
Yes, Maria! I’ve done a few 5K’s previous to my broken tailbone (mostly walking), but always in my own strength. Now I’m learning to lean on Him more – for physical strength, for perseverance, for willpower to say no to junk food… And to listen to the Voice of Truth rather than the Father of lies. Thanks for stopping by to encourage me!
What a wonderful story of Christ’s faithfulness. Every day I need to be reminded to lean on Jesus and not my own ideas or expectations. This was today’s wonderful reminder. Thank you Jen! I found you on Grace & Truth, as a fellow blogger.
Happy to have you here! 🙂 I really enjoy the Grace and Truth link-up – so many encouraging words to read.
Sometimes these things are just as much mental as they are physical! I’m cheering you on, Jen. I have done a few races and some upbeat worship music helps a lot. Please let us know how it goes, OK?!
Hi, Laura, thanks for stopping by! Yes, that particular day, I had zero motivation, haha. I’ve been getting in about 3 miles per day so far. My knees are a little sore today, but we walked at a faster pace than normal this morning. Keep praying for them! I’m sure I’ll update after the race, too.
Ruth Clemence says
Such an uplifting post Jen 🙂 I do love that song very much too! Praise God for your heart that constantly seeks Him, especially during those uphill climbs! I hope you are well, friend! 🙂
Thank you, Ruth! I am well, thanks for asking! I’ve been excited to see my body responding to the more difficult workouts with increased strength. I keep asking the Father to protect my knees and keep me healthy for the race next weekend. I hope all is well with you, too!
Tai East says
This is so inspiring and encouraging, Jen! Keep persevering! I’m rooting for you and I know that you can do it! Praying for you right now, Doll! Infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂
Ifeoma Samuel says
Hi Jen, I also went over to read the the post you picked for the linkup “Fear of blogging”. It is a good article. Lots of lesons there too.
Trying hard to do things, is good but even better is when we rely on God to crown all our efforts with success. We have more confidence when we rely on God to accomplish the things He has promised us.
I pray the Lord strengthens your knees and every area in your life where your need His encouragement.
Remain Blessed Woman of God.
Ifeoma, you bless me with your words! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by here.
sometimes all we can do is one step at a time – with God in front of us 😀
Yes, He paves the way, doesn’t he?!
This is really lovely. I love how you took us through your hike and that you persevered. What a wonderful reminder to us all that if we just take one step at a time… God has our back and nothing that the enemy whispers to us has to be true – ever. Beautiful.
Yes, one step at a time! Thank you for stopping by.
This is so fitting. I’ve been through some major changes this past year. Not knowing my future has been difficult. My faith has really been tested.
Praying for you this morning, Tami! I just wrote this week on some major changes facing our family. We, too, do not know the future and that’s a hard spot to remain in. Praying strength and courage for the both of us!
I definitely think that there is a connection between pushing ourselves physically that helps us push ourselves spiritually!
So true! That makes complete sense to me because often the Father has to get my attention by allowing illness in my physical body, too. Thanks for stopping by, Laura!