I wanted to give up today. I really did. I wanted to stop and not take another step forward. Literally. Not figuratively.
I’ve been walking. A lot. 2.6 miles in the morning, with another 2.4 or so mile walk in the evening, so I thought to myself this morning “You are ready. It’s only 5 miles. How hard can it be?” And I’ve wanted someplace different to walk instead around here in my neighborhood or the nearby 2.6 mile White Oak Trail in Newport News park.
I was wrong.
I thought I was ready. I was not. And somehow that little 5 mile hike, came out to be about 6.76 mile hike according to my GPS tracking in my MapMyWalk app. And somewhere in my brain, I thought it would be a nice, flat walk. I nice saunter. Yeah, I didn’t account for the HILLS–both the ones going UP and the ones going DOWN.
At about the 4th mile, I literally thought I was going to die. My face was blood red. My hands were swollen. I felt sick. And I seriously thought—can I honestly take another step?? I’m going to have to sit down.
But I didn’t sit down. For one thing, that would have been embarrassing. I didn’t want my friend to think I was THAT much of a wimp, even though I whined about the trail the entire way. (It’s ok, I know she’s read this). Plus there was this creepy guy who literally followed us the entire trail, despite our efforts to get him to go around us. I certainly wasn’t going to pass out in front of him and risk mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
So I kept going. One step at a time. Actually those “one steps at a time” added up to 12, 120 steps–well past my goal of 10,000 steps in a day.
And yeah, I’m glad I did it. And yeah, I’m proud of us. And yeah, I’m glad it’s over. And yeah, I’ll probably not walk that blasted trail again until I lose another 30 pounds (I’m at a 31 pound loss as of today).
I know, it’s a silly story. But let me use this silly story to be serious for a moment, if you don’t mind.
Sure, I wanted to give up today on this little hiking adventure of ours. But I didn’t. I kept going. But you know what. There have been plenty of other times in my life—real times, dark times, hateful, evil times–when I have seriously wanted to give up. I mean really give up. As in permanently. No more steps forward. No more strength. No more hope.
But God’s grace has intervened time and time again. Both in very real, physical, literal ways and in very real spiritual ways. And, His grace continues to intervene. Just when I can’t go another step. Can’t parent another moment. Can’t pay another bill. Can’t make myself interact with the world one more time. In He steps, with grace, love, compassion—and the incessant prodding of my soul to keep moving forward. To not stop. Because there remains work to be done. In so many areas.
I love Psalm 31. I won’t put it all here, but I’ll give you a brief overview and hope that you will read it for yourself.
It’s a call for rescue. It’s a call of honesty. The writer pens the famous words “Into Your Hand I commit my spirit”. He speaks of enemies. He speaks of distress, of anguish. He says the following words, that my soul has echoed so often:
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
But you know what is remarkable through out this Psalm? The writer never seems to doubt God’s love. Or His faithfulness. Or His ability to rescue. Other Psalms do. But not this one. No, this one ends on a note of hope. On a note of encouragement to those who might read his words. It ends on a note of hope. A note to urge the reader to keep walking. To keep moving forward. To cry out in honesty to God–YES, a thousand times yes!! But to also trust that God is who He says He is. The ending verse is this:
Be strong. Even in tremendous weakness. And I have known (and still do know) tremendous weakness. Let your heart take courage—-even in the face of overwhelming fear. Debilitating fear. And wait for the Lord. Wait. Because He has “heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.”
And just like I knew my friend was not going to let me stop and die on the Noland Trail today, I have to believe that hope is truth, and that my God hears my pleas for mercy when I cry out to Him. And, as a result I intend to keep going. To keep pushing forward. To keep moving forward. To not give up.
Below is a video that came across the internet this week that I absolutely fell in love with. It demonstrates this so well. He’s two years old, and due to some tragic incident, he does not have his original leg anymore. But he has a prosthetic. And this video captures some of his first moments walking with his prosthetic and his walker—and the great encouragement of his therapist and his family. Besides it’s incredible cuteness, I love his reaction at the end. He starts saying over and over again “I got this! I got this!” And you know what, with God’s continuous grace and patience with me–and with you–even in the most difficult and darkest times, we can say “I got this”–not because we “man-up” and do it in our own power. That doesn’t work. Tried that. Failed miserably. But we’ve got it only because we have a God who sees, who knows and who is faithful–even in the times that we do not sense His presence. Even in the times that hope is absent.
Be strong my friends. Let your Heart take courage. Wait on the Lord. Please.