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Friday, February 24, 2017

Thank you for the journey, Lord!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)
We could all recount times and seasons of tremendous trial and overwhelming changes occurring in our lives - times and seasons we'd rather not have passed through, but for which we will always be tremendously grateful for God's presence guiding us through. We neither planned them, nor did we always welcome them with open arms. Some of these times were just plain hard and awful to have faced - almost bordering on being our "undoing". Could it be possible that was the purpose of those seasons - our "undoing"? Maybe it is just possible God was after a little "undoing" of what it was we were so busy "doing" that needed to be accomplished in our lives.  Proverbs reminds us that we can make our own plans, but it is God who actually determines our steps in the end (16:9). It is his purpose that will prevail - not so much our plans (19:21). 
There is much we can take away from every season in our life - even those that seemed to be like drought times and what others may label as "worrisome" or "tumultuous". It is important to keep in mind God's purpose in all of life's adventures - it is to bring us closer to him, ultimately moving us further away from our dependence on self and closer to full devotion to his will for our lives. We'd like to avoid the "hard stuff" in life, but trust me when I tell you that this "hard stuff" is exactly what makes the journey worthwhile. One day a friend and I set out on a pretty well-marked trail in search of what were promised to be "majestic waterfalls". Now to be truthful here, neither of us are all that skillful in our hiking abilities, but we enjoy a good walk and a little bit of a challenge is okay. What we didn't count on was the climb!
Rarely do we see the steepness of the climb in life - because the trees mask the ascent! The forest around us - those situations and circumstances that spring up and present all manner of obstacle - these things often don't convey the extreme heights we are being taken toward all along that journey. My friend and I realized we were "climbing" because of the level of exertion we were having to put forth - our muscles felt it, our lungs panted for breath, and our hearts raced at speeds telling us we were definitely "on the climb". It isn't always clear where we are headed, nor is the full "climb" known, but when we put one foot squarely in front of the other, embracing the climb in trust of what will come when we reach the summit, we will make it!  We don't know the majesty that awaits us at the end of the journey, but in faith we take each step forward (and upward), even when it hurts. 
I am here to tell you the climb was worth every step! Those twin falls were indeed breathtaking and the joy of beholding their beauty was only outweighed by the knowledge we'd made the climb together! We rarely climb alone in this life - most of us are giving climbing companions - we need them because they help to spur us on when we don't want to go any further. I am going to tell you something we discovered at the top of our climb, but please don't laugh. There was actually a road leading up to the falls - paved, with a full parking lot! We didn't need to make the climb - we could have just bypassed all that "effort" to behold the beauty of those falls. I also want to tell you I don't think we would have appreciated them quite as much without that climb! Why? We talked along the way, laughed at each other's breathlessness, and took in things about each other we'd not have learned without the climb.
The journey reveals much - but we have to be open to experiencing the climb, not just the destination. The going may be rough and challenge our endurance - but the majesty of what awaits us at the end of the journey will leave us breathless in wonder of the majesty of the God we serve! Just sayin!