I like to live most of life in the high points. You know, the moments where it seems you’re on the top of the world and no one can bring you down! It’s like defying gravity. (I think I’ve heard that in song form somewhere or another.) But the thing is, life isn’t one big mountain top experience, nor should it be. It’s not real if it’s all mountains.
I lived in Colorado for several years. One thing I know is that you can’t just go from peak to peak to peak, without the help of a helicopter or the work it takes to summit each peak. But for some reason, in matters of life and faith we often live as though we deserve the mountain tops without the valleys. And we give mountain tops the greater value of the two.
Now don’t get me wrong, a mountain top is a good thing, but my greatest moments of personal triumph, moments where I learned the most valuable lessons were rarely found at the summit. They were found in the valley and the climb to the top. It is in low places where choice, endurance, perseverance and fortitude all must be a part of the process of going one step further to reach a summit that can barely be seen.
In my training for the marathon I learned that the process was of greater worth than the product. I must admit I still believe this is true, even after finishing. And I think I believe it with more gusto, because I’m once again in process. Sure, I can say I’m a marathoner, but I am in no way close to being in marathon shape. Since the marathon my eating habits have tanked and my daily work outs have turned into weekly at best. And I find myself once again staring process in the face and wishing I could just run away from it.
As I ran the marathon, I knew I’d finish, I never questioned that fact. I knew I would simply have to put one foot in front of the other and that was it. I didn’t think much about the finish line while I was running, I couldn’t. If I thought of the finish line, I would only see how far I had to go. But if I thought about one step, I knew I could take that step.
Life is the same way. We so often look to our final goal and want so badly to arrive that we give up, because the goal seems unreachable. We do that with emotional heath, spiritual growth and physical well being. Think about it, how many times have you faced a memory of your past that you know you must walk through once again to find freedom and turn and walk away because you have no desire to walk through it. Or say you know someone whose faith you admire and you ask what it takes to get there, they answer with a process of spending time with Jesus and you see process…. and resign to the fact that you’re not disciplined enough to “get where they are.” And lastly, you want to loose weight or accomplish something physically and see how far you are from the goal and give up before you start.
If you had asked me three months ago if I’d ever be in a spot again where I didn’t want to work out and didn’t want to eat healthy I would have passionately and freely told you no. I’m free! And to be fair, I was. Today though, I have simply lost sight of that freedom since the enormous task of running that race is over. I find myself once again staring process in the face and have a choice. Do I enter in and take it one step at a time or do I give up? This my friends, is the longest marathon I’ll ever have to run. And I need to remember to put one foot in front of the other and choose to walk towards the finish line.
James 1:2-4 says 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. You’d think we’d get the picture. The valley is good. The valley is hard. The valley develops, grows, challenges and molds us. We may worship the mountain, the end goal and the finish line, but the process it takes to get there is where our faith collides with difficulty, where Jesus becomes our strength and where we really get to taste the adventure of walking in relationship with Him and those He has placed in our lives.
Do you have words for one in the valley? Share them. They’d be good for me and many who find themselves here each day.