Okay, it's not so much that I don't mind that there is a hand holding my tire when I ride my bicycle every day, but this morning a thought occurred to me that I can be thankful for that hand.
Every morning it seems, as I ride my bike merrily along the way, at some point I come to a seemingly flat surface and yet it's as hard to move along as if I were trying to trek up a steep incline. I half-jokingly griped to God this morning that apparently the devil didn't want me to exercise so he was holding my tire and I was having to drag him along.
Instantly, as though continuing a longstanding conversation, the words returned to me; "Then as long as you keep going, he's only making you stronger."
And I realized how much stronger I am now for having faced the hills, for having continued pedaling when my flat surface seemed not-so-flat. "I thank God for the mountains, and I thank God for the valleys,..." Because of those problems, because of those physical struggles I can go farther and longer than I could 5 months ago when I first moved here.
And as I looked back quickly into the last 8 years of my life, I saw a lot of times where it was really hard to keep going, where I felt held back, tripped up, or just couldn't see how the obstacle I had to climb was able to be clumb. Yeah spell checker, I know that's not a word.
And yet God let me face them. Not because He gets some sadistic pleasure out of seeing me struggle but because He wants me to grow, to be strong, to learn, to understand, to chase after Him and His will with a drive and purpose and with stamina built by facing the daily challenges life brings me.
So often I've noticed me and my bike only have stamina to make it up the short hills, but the long ones require the foolish looking "park on the side of the road panting for a minute while drivers point and laugh". Okay, I made the pointing and laughing up but still...
When I moved to San Antonio, I never thought it would take quite so long to get settled, I didn't imagine mothers having heart attacks, or parents threatening to separate, or pills making my mother's alzheimers a thousand times worse. I didn't imagine half of the struggles I've run into since I've made it here. And this hill sometimes seems too long, as though I only have strength for a short struggle and if this is going to continue I will need a place to rest and pant and recover my strength.
But as I pushed through today, riding down my flat surface and imagining the devil hanging onto my bike tire, I could only tell God how much I appreciate the struggle. So again Lord, thank You for allowing me these struggles. I wouldn't have chosen them for myself but You have chosen the ones that You know You have already strengthened me to face. I remember riding up that long hill the other day and asking You for strength to make it up and I will never forget what You told me. You said that You'd already given me the strength to make it up the hill, but that I must only have the will to use it to the end.
So thank You, even when I cry and complain that the hills of life are too hard, that the grief or challenge is too overwhelming, I know that You have directed these things into my path so that as I go through I will be stronger. I'll whine and moan again Lord, I always seem to...but just keep reminding me would you? remind me that there's a purpose and a plan and those things are always for the best and that these struggles aren't meaningless.
Help me have stamina for the journeys Lord, for the long hills I'll face. I'll face the hills you bring me Lord, and as long as I don't stop I know I'll be stronger because of them.
Help me never stop.
I love You.