Don’t Give Up!
When have you not given up? A couple summers ago I couldn’t wait to do a bike ride on Skyline Drive and experience the climbs and the stunning views for myself. Yet the summer flew by and it wasn’t until Labor Day weekend that I finally found myself out in Shenandoah National Park.
I am grateful for who God is. That He designed me with a love of being active, to enjoy the beauty of His creation, and a heart that hears from Him. I love how He will often speak to me while I’m out on a bike ride or run. I’m grateful for an Abba Father who designed us uniquely and Who cares so deeply about us. He desires for us to hear from Him. He draws us into His presence. How incredible is that?
This 65 mile long bike ride had lots of gradual climbs. Very long climbs. It was unique from any other bike ride I have done. We parked at the visitors center and rode 4 miles downhill to the entrance and then climbed the four miles back up to our car. From there we grabbed an extra water bottle and continued on with our ride.
Those first 8 miles were my favorite. The thrill of descending down the hill, the first stunning views of the mountains and valley and the climb back up. Thanks to my friend’s advice, I found a comfortable easy gear and just rode steadily up the 4 mile climb. I felt great but the reason I truly loved this stretch was for how God spoke to my heart.
This first part felt backwards. We started with the descent and then did the climb. Normally I fully love a good downhill as I have worked hard to climb up that hill. Yet, we had simply gotten out of the car and rode our bikes down the hill. As I slowly but steadily climbed back up those four miles God spoke to me of what a picture this is of life. There are struggles that I face that are just challenging. I often wish God would just take the struggle away. Just let me cruise down the four mile hill. Yet if we had stopped the ride there it would have been such a disappointment. Yes, I would have enjoyed a 4 mile descent but I didn’t work for it. I didn’t put any effort into it. How much more do I enjoy the descent after I have done the climbing. And as I slowly but steadily climbed back up those four miles I realized how much of life is like this… slow and steady. As I was climbing, it wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of the amazing view of the valley that I could fully appreciate how far I had come. Often, in life I don’t see the progress that is being made. I feel like I am still facing the same struggles yet there are times when God allows me to get a glimpse of how far He has brought me.
That morning I woke up with the song “I am loved by God” in my head. As I spent time in the quietness of God’s presence I realized the significance of this. This past week was exhausting, challenging, and just plain difficult at times. Yet I realized that God did not simply bring me through this week. He allowed me to walk through each situation in fullness of my identity as His beloved child. In the past, many of these challenges would have caused me to forget my identity as one loved by God. And when I forget how deeply I am loved by God, my response and reactions are vastly different. So while the week had challenges and I didn’t feel like I was making any progress, I was in fact slowly and steadily climbing up that hill. And today I got that glimpse of how far He is truly brought me.
There is work involved. There are times when God has to remind me to have faith in who my God is. That He has the power to change my heart and that there is truly nothing impossible for Him. No struggle or challenge that I face compares to the greatness and might of His power. There are other times though when I am reminded of my part. Scripture tells me to meditate on His word day and night. To write it upon my heart. To take every thought captive. To choose to give thanks. There are days when this feels like work. It requires a whole lot of effort to take every thought captive. To choose to meditate on God’s truth instead of my own feelings. Yet it is that slow and steady process- choosing truth, believing in God and allowing Him to work in our hearts and lives- that by His power He begins to change us. There is such a greater testimony when we can see how far God has brought us. That we know it’s only because of Him that we are who we are today. He receives all glory and praise.
God spoke to me about perspective. For the first 20 miles I fully enjoyed the ride. I loved the climbs and was amazed by the stunning views. Until mile 20 something… then I was reminded of how exhausted I was… and the rest of the ride was extremely challenging. The climbs were so long that I often wondered if they were ever going to end. At one point I lost the two guys I was riding with so I found myself alone, tired, and discouraged. Questioning myself on why this ride had been a good idea. After I found them, I was able to persevere and make it through the rest of the ride. By the end of the ride, I found myself grateful that I had done it. However, my view of myself from that ride was that I was just plain exhausted. It was interesting reading one of my friend’s comments about our ride later on in an email.
To say Rebekah is a strong rider is an understatement. I spent way more time trying to keep up with her today than not. She is a climbing machine! Very impressive.
I almost wanted to laugh when I read that comment. Are you kidding me? I was not strong, I was exhausted. I was ready to give up halfway through the ride. I struggled up those climbs and the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I was riding with others. It’s actually funny how drastically different his assessment of my riding was compared to my own.
I often experience this perspective difference with God. My Abba Father looks upon me and declares that I am worthy, I am victorious, I am free, I am beautiful, I am loved, I belong to Him, I am an overcomer. However, often my views and feelings about myself is far from these truths. I feel discouraged, defeated, not beautiful, and looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places.
I have a choice to make. And I going to believe how I feel or what is true? One reason that I could even be considered a strong rider yesterday was the fact that I did not give up. I simply kept pushing on up those long climbs. Often, I have to simply press on and choose to believe God’s truth about myself. As I press on and tell myself His truth and allow Him to speak it to my heart, it slowly becomes a reality in my heart and life.
“For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth” Psalm 26:3
When have you not given up? How has God changed your perspective of yourself or your situation?