Have you ever felt like you couldn’t breathe? I have. While we were on vacation we had the opportunity to take a short climb up a mountain to see some mountaintop lakes. There was an “easy” way and a “hard” way to get there. The “easy” way was up a groomed trail to the top, while the “hard” way was going up a natural trail that was no more than a footpath that required climbing over boulders and across streams, etc. We took the “easy” way up, but right from the start, I had a hard time breathing. Now, I know I am not the most athletic individual, but I am not that out of shape either. However, all the way up I could hear myself wheezing. This man-made groomed trail was a steady incline with no natural spots that leveled out. I was afraid that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get started again, so I pushed on. I did make it to the top, and it was well worth the effort! The lakes were a beautiful shade of turquoise and we saw an owl guarding its nest in the cleft of a rock on the mountainside. On the way back down, we took the “hard” route. Thankfully we had a guide. There would have been no way that we would have found our way back down this way without one. Sometimes the path was indicated by little more than a broken twig. We not only needed the guide, but we needed to trust her. It would have been easy to believe that we were lost, but she kept leading us on. The view of the city below and the massive waterfall we past were breathtaking. We followed her over boulders and down stairs. While some of the path was very difficult, the pieces in between were level and easy. They were like natural “breaks” along the way. We were able to stand up straight and gather some energy for the next obstacle. Somehow I think it would have been easier to go up the “hard” way because of the moments where you would be able to catch your breath.
Once we came home from vacation, the hard realities set in: the problems that I had left behind when I went on vacation were still here when I came back. Suddenly, I felt like I did climbing that mountain. I couldn’t breathe. But God reminded me that life’s difficulties are not simply something to get through, but something to experience. There are things to be learned, both about Him and myself, and views that could only be seen by lifting my eyes off of myself and taking in the whole of what is around me. He reminded me that He is my Guide along the way. I am not alone. But do I trust Him? Have I walked far enough with Him that I can trust Him now?
I was reading in 2 Peter this week. The first chapter implores us to move beyond faith: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (1: 5-9) I believe Satan would like nothing better than to have us forget what Jesus has done for us. And without solid experiences with Jesus, it is very possible to lose sight of His love and power. My knowledge of Who He is and what He does for me every day, are the things that establish my trust in Him. It is not enough to simply trust Him for salvation. I need to know Him in order to live my life now in the freedom and abundance that He promised.
Will this path I am on be easy? No. Do I know how it is all going to end? No. But I do know that in those moments that I panic and can’t breathe and curl up in a ball with my eyes squeezed shut hoping that it will all just “go away,” that it is His gentle hand that stands me up, comforts me, and moves me forward. He will lead me through. I am grateful for the “breaks” that He gives me where I can take my eyes off of my problems and see the beauty that is around me, for those places where I can catch my breath. I am also grateful for His guidance. Without it, I would be hopelessly lost. Can I say that I know Him? I am learning more about Him every day. Do I trust Him? Absolutely!