The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(Friends: Frances and I hiked in the mountains of North Georgia last week. As always, such ventures resulted in numerous ponderings regarding the Lord's glory and truth. I plan on sharing some of those thoughts with you in this week's messages. Thanks, Glen).
"The Difficulties of Descent"
One challenge of hiking always tends to surprise me, namely, the downhills. Had you asked me before we began our journeys in the mountains what would be the most difficult aspect of such adventures, I would likely have responded that the uphills would most tax the body and the mind. Certainly ascending steep inclines does involve hardship, shortness of breath, and throbbing muscles. However, I find that descents present the most difficulty. Rocky trails involve placing feet and hiking poles in just the right place and position when traveling downhill. Moreover, gravity presses objects, including hikers' bodies, toward the ground, making falls much more possible. On the Appalachian Trail, most paths are strewn with rocks and roots that place both mental and physical concentration at a premium. So for me, downhills present by far the greatest challenge.
In spiritual terms, we may also consider the downhills as most desirable and beneficial. We all do what we can to avoid the challenges and troubles that feel like steep and breathless ascents. There is nothing necessarily wrong with seeking to make the journey of life easier. Planning and preparations that help us to travel on level and even descending paths may surely result in better outcomes that lead to more secure and enjoyable journeys. However, Scripture plainly declares that we also require many taxing uphills in order to consistently walk with our Lord.
"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
Who would realize their need for the Lord Jesus Christ if life only involved effortless walks along smooth paths? We presently require God-determined or allowed hardships in order to hone us to holiness, as it were. When we encounter stretches of life wherein things seem easier, the temptation to spiritual complacency confronts us. Again, we can rightly enjoy the blessings of life and those times when difficulty seems to temporarily wane. We nevertheless do well to be aware of the rocks and roots that line downward trails. Seeming ease can lead to slumbering exclusion of the wariness that must characterize our walk with God in a fallen, treacherous world. "Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8).
Whether uphill, downhill, or even on level pathways, challenges will present themselves throughout our present lifetime. Discovering the difficulties of descent on mountain trails illustrated to my heart the necessity of maintaining sober vigilance in all things. We do well to enjoy those times in life when pressures lessen. But we also do well to realize the possibility of falls along paths that might seem easier, but which also greatly challenge our walk with the Lord.
"And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Weekly Memory Verse
"The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and godhead."