Grand Teton National Park gave my son and I the chance to go on plenty of hikes. Some were leisurely and others were intense cardio. Along the trails hikers greeted each other with pleasantries, but I noticed one conversation repeating. Returning hikers would always encourage those who hadn’t made it to the end of the trail. Particularly hikers who seemed tired and about to turn around would be urged, “Keep going you are almost there. Believe me it will be worth it.”
Paul writes in a similar tone. Throughout the New Testament he urges believers to persevere and keep going until they make it to the end. As I thought about the returning hikers compelling those still on the way to keep going, I thought of Paul. Paul could rightfully urge believers to keep going because he had already seen what is at the end.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul says he was taken to heaven. Though he couldn’t put words to it, nor did Christ allow him to speak of it, he knew the urgency of “keep going”. And like the hikers along the trail, he echoes the sentiment, “If you could see what I have seen, you wouldn’t turn back.”
Of the trails we hiked, the most difficult ones yielded the greatest reward. Those that were the steepest, the most uneven and rocky led us to the most incredible views. I fear that sometimes Christians are afraid of going down paths that may be difficult. Paul pleads with the Lord to make things less difficult for him and Christ answers in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul goes on to write, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Following the Lord with your whole heart will mean less popularity, less acceptance and far more difficulties. This trail in our walk with the Lord will expose our weakness but will magnify God’s grace and power. This is also the trail that will yield the greatest reward. Paul saw it and he urged to keep on running our race with endurance to the very end.
On one of our hikes, I heard one hiker saying to another, “If you had turned you would have seen the falls. You are only about two hundred feet from it. It is so beautiful, and you are so close.” Still the woman he was trying to convince decided not to go the way he was imploring her to go. Hidden Falls were astounding to behold, and I could hear them roaring from the place the woman stood, yet she walked away.
In our walk with God, sometimes we get close to the sound of God’s voice. The beauty of belonging to Him completely and sincerely is so close, but we turn in another direction. The trail towards living for God will not always be easy. You will have rough terrain to overcome and times when you feel your weakest, but keep going. I promise you are closer than you think, and you will not be sorry when you reach the top!