Sunday, September 21, 2014

Have I mentioned that I hate hills?

This is a repost of a blog from 2010.

Okay, I know that as a runner I'm supposed to love hills. I've participated in races where the course was described as having "gentle, rolling hills" and let me tell you whoever wrote that lied! There was absolutely nothing gentle about those hills. They went on forever! And even though the race doubled back to the start, I still haven't figured out how I wound up running uphill both ways! I live in South Mississippi for crying out loud! Where are all these hills coming from?!?

I hate hills. I'm not exactly what you'd call poetry in motion when I run anyway, but when I encounter hills, things gets downright ugly! My heart starts beating out of my chest, my face gets flushed, I start sweating so hard I look like I got caught in a sudden cloud burst, and I run SLOW!!! I hate hills...have I mentioned that before?

I can't be the only one who struggles with hills. Why, even the writer of Psalms 121 said, "I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?" The King James version says, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." I used to think that verse meant I looked up to God in some sort of spiritual utopia. Then I read the verse in other versions and realized the author was calling out for help! Seems that he wasn't looking forward to having to take that hill either!

Still, I am coming to realize what most runners already know, hills build strength. Seasoned runners look at hills as an opportunity to become stronger and therefore, faster. They know those hills will eventually benefit them and allow them to win the race!

Life is full of hills, chances to become stronger than what we are. The question is, will I look at those hills/trials as a good thing? Will I choose to remember during the battle uphill that somehow God is going to use this for my good and His glory? As my heart is pounding and every part of me hurts feeling as though this trial will never end, can I keep going? Will I look back at hills past and remember that God is faithful and never leaves me nor forsakes me? Will I look at this trial as yet another chance for God to make me stronger so that I can run the race set before me? Will I learn to give thanks even for those "hills"? If so, it could really change the way I look at life! Those hills serve a purpose!

In Romans 5: 3-5, this is described for us. "There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"

The rest of Psalm 121 tells me how I will be able to do all this: "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;  indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." I'm not running up this hill alone. He is there to hold me up, even to the point that I can almost feel his hand on my back gently encouraging me to go on. He does not ask me to do anything that He is unwilling to do with me. He's taken this hill before and He came back to help me do the same.

Can't say I'll ever learn to love hills, but maybe I'll learn to not dread them quite so much from now on. Perhaps the urge to quit and sit down won't seem quite so attractive now. After all, I've got a race to run, and I want to run it well....for I'm running for the prize! I want to hear "Well done" when my race is through.

More encouragement for the "Hills of Life".....

Hebrews 12: 1-3 (Message translation): "Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Isa 40:31 (NIV) But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Phil. 3:12 - 14 "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Matthew 25:21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

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