Trail Tips for Troublesome Days
My leg muscles screamed in protest as I gasped for breath and pulled myself upward to the next rest bench on the mountain trail. I promised myself, Girlfriend, you WILL be in better shape next year! Can you identify?
For several years, our family of four participated in a volksmarch, a German term for “people’s walk.” Beginning at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail near Helen, Georgia, we walked only five kilometers, but with steep inclines, the distance seemed much further. At the finish line, with relief and perspiration, we accepted our medals as family tradition mementos.
Do you have days that feel like an arduous walk up a mountain and others that are more like a leisurely stroll? I do. On those troublesome days, challenges can feel like rocks in our backpack, slowing progress and discouraging us.
The verb walk in the Bible describes the daily life and behavior of one who has accepted Christ as Savior. Scripture teaches that Christians should align their actions with God’s Word.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” Colossians 2:6 (ESV)
Paul prayed that believers would
“… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; …” Colossians 1:10 (ESV)
How can we live up to Paul’s description as we navigate the steep inclines of daily difficulties? Consider the following:
Look for markers in the Bible.
On the Appalachian Trail, arrowed signs pointed the way and prevented error when undergrowth obscured forks in the trail. The Bible is like a collection of markers, guiding us in God’s way. Bible study steadies and steers us when trials arise on those “mountain trail” days.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)
Lean on the Lord in prayer.
My walking stick worked like a lever to push me up the mountain when weak muscles faltered. Communication with God in prayer strengthens us when we meet roadblocks and encounter difficulties. Having an ongoing prayer conversation with God throughout the day not only helps us enjoy His presence but also yields His peace and wisdom to bolster us to the next level on the journey.
“… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
Listen to fellow Christ-followers.
Although I read the signs and used a walking stick, I also needed my family’s encouragement, and at some points, a literal push over the next ridge. Asking for help can be humbling, yet other Christians can remind us of biblical truth and the fact that God is always with us, even on hard days. Have you received encouragement from fellow believers?
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
How is your walk today? Perhaps printing the verses above on cards and keeping them handy will help in troublesome times. When a day’s journey feels like a steep mountain hike, turn the day into an adventure with God by searching for His direction in the Bible and in prayer as you seek encouragement from fellow hikers.
Psalms 45:6-8 6Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 7You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 8All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.
This psalm is by the sons of Korah. Korah had challenged God’s decision to have Aaron and sons be the priests. The earth opened up and swallowed him. His descendants, however, were still given the privilege to be musicians for the house of God. Many of the psalms were written by them. What an expression of the mercy of God! This psalm was a wedding song, possibly for Solomon. Just as in the Song of Songs, the theme moves from Solomon and his wife to Jesus and the church. Since Jesus is of the lineage of David, He is often referred to as The Son of David, and Solomon is in some respect a shadow of The Son of David who was to come.
We especially see the overlap in verse 6. It is God who is being addressed. His Kingdom is the only just Kingdom. He is the One who truly loves righteousness and hates wickedness. God anointed Christ Jesus with the oil of joy (Hebrews 1:8-9). The Biblical picture of Jesus is of One who is more joyful than all His disciples. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As you grow in Christ’s likeness, you will find an increasing measure of joy.
His robes are fragrant. As we carry His life into the world, people get a whiff of the fragrance of the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:14). The music of strings makes Him glad. The abundance of worship music today is bringing gladness to the heart of Jesus. Don’t you love that thought? I hope this prophetic picture of Christ has changed your impression of the One we serve. He does weep for the lost. He does grieve with you in your trials and feels your pain. Yet, He knows the future, and He is the most joyful One you will ever meet.
Consider: The psalm goes on to speak of the bride. That is you and I! This is our wedding song! Savor it!
Streams in the Desert – October 10
- 202110 Oct
Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed! Do not envy evildoers! —Ps 37:1 NET
This to me is a Divine command; the same as “Thou shalt not steal.” Now let us get to the definition of fretting. One good definition is, “Made rough on the surface.” “Rubbed, or worn away”; and a peevish, irrational, fault-finding person not only wears himself out, but is very wearing to others. To fret is to be in a state of vexation, and in this Psalm we are not only told not to fret because of evildoers, but to fret not “in anywise.” It is injurious, and God does not want us to hurt ourselves.
A physician will tell you that a fit of anger is more injurious to the system than a fever, and a fretful disposition is not conducive to a healthy body; and you know rules are apt to work both ways, and the next step down from fretting is crossness, and that amounts to anger. Let us settle this matter, and be obedient to the command, “Fret not.”—Margaret Bottome
OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD
Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so?”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”
Scripture Reading — Matthew 5:10-12
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:10
It’s ironic that these verses come immediately after Christ’s call to be peacemakers. We are called to bring healing and hope to a world that desperately needs it. We are on God’s side, trying to serve in the best interests of others.
And yet, people sometimes choose to repay us with anger, hostility, or outright persecution. According to Jesus, it’s not a question of whether this will happen but of when and where it will happen.
Persecution may come in a variety of forms. A snarky comment. A broken relationship. Physical or emotional abuse. Some of you reading this know the pain and the cost of following Jesus. You have lived it, or you might be experiencing it now.
Jesus seeks to encourage us in these difficult moments. When the world fails to understand why we live the way we live, Jesus promises that the kingdom of heaven is ours. If we stand firm and hold to our hope in Christ, we can experience a measure of peace.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when people reject us and mistreat us. But, deep down, we have comfort, knowing that God will provide for our every need. And in the end, we will share in his victory over sin. And death. And every enemy.
Father, help me to stay faithful in the face of adversity and persecution. Help me to resist the temptation to compromise, and may I continue serving you in hope, trusting in your promise of victory. Amen.