This morning as I was thinking about some of work that I still have ahead of me in both my spiritual and my natural life, I was reminded of this picture I took of one of my favorite places -The Smokies in Tennessee. As far as the eye could see, there were tops of the ranges showing occasionally through the fog. The fog would shift and move, revealing yet another crest. I thought of the original settlers and how daunting it must have been to reach the top of a range only to find yet another one waiting - and then the fog would shift and they would see that their journey had barely even begun.
My spiritual journey has been like that. For a long, long while, I was content to dwell in a little comfortable place that I had created for myself in my spiritual life. Same routine, same work, same relationships, same end results with no surprises. Suddenly, without warning, life slapped me upside the head one more time and I realized that too much of my spiritual well-being was wrapped up in the people around me. My relationship with my God was far too dependent upon my relationship with other people. When those relationships became changed in some way, it was apparent to me that I had become too comfortable in the world I had created through habit and comfort. I have always tried to challenge myself to be nicer today than I was yesterday, do one more good deed, and on and on. However, I failed to take my progress in stride with a long-range view of the future. Now, looking back, I can see that the occasional shake-up must be necessary for your natural and spiritual health so that you can reshape your goals and your life plans to accommodate the changes that we all must face.
Since then, I have removed myself to a certain extent from the emotional view of things to take a long-term logical view. What lies before me is much like what the settlers faced in the early days before planes, trains and automobiles. There is one mountain range after another ahead of me. Mountains with nasty names like criticism, snide thoughts, judging others, failure to be a good steward, hateful words, temptation, and all the others that you probably face in your own life just like I do. Sometimes the fog shifts and a mountain pops out that I didn't even know was there. The fog is beautiful and it protects me from the unpleasantness of knowing exactly what is ahead, but at times it needs to be swept aside by the wind of His spirit so that I may see the truth and the way. Even though the wind carries with it the scent of rain with the acrid bite of thunder and lightening in the air, I have learned when the way is rough and hard to traverse, the wind is howling and there seems to be no shelter to be found, God will see to it that if I just keep walking, there will be reward at the end of the journey. Even when the storms are so thick and strong I have no idea where my feet are taking me, as long as I keep my mind upon Him, He has been leading my steps.
I am not completely through this rough time of my life. Even if I were, I am sure that the next set of mountains is just over the horizon. For now, that is okay. I know that He loves me and mine and really that is all that matters. I don't like climbing and I definitely don't like constantly walking uphill, but if that is what it takes to burn out the dross in my life, then it is all worthwhile. I would that I were the type of person that would be able to show His love no matter what the conditions or what type of person I was dealing with. I would that I was not apt to judge by outward appearances since I know how it feels to be falsely judged. I would that I would have such peace in my heart that nothing but Him would shine through to others in need.
Lofty goals, but without goals nothing can be new. Without goals everything stays the same and becomes stagnant like a pool of undisturbed water - dark and nasty with bad little bugs swarming.
I would not, however, be adverse to the occasional rest area with a nice little picnic table and some pretty views. ;-) Hint, hint, God - - a little bit of rest for the wicked would be greatly appreciated!