Don't Stop in the Journey
Ever been hiking? Whew, I have. I am not too good at it. The family and I went to Table Rock and we visited the trail. Everything was good as we hiked up the mountain on the smooth trail. It was paved and we stopped off at the waterfall and the boys walked in the water. It was awesome.
Then we decided to walk the path a little farther up the mountain. May I emphasize the word, “UP”. We started and the trail winded its way you the side of the mountain. We walked up a jagged path and my two-time surgery back began to feel the strain. I tried to act as if nothing was wrong. I was doing the proper breathing exercises and everything. In…out, in…out, in…out…yeah, that does not work.
My boys were skipping and running up the trail and I was about to collapse. But, I knew if I ever stopped I would never want to continue the journey. I pushed forward. Eventually, even my boys began to feel the burn. I even caught up with them. They would not tell you that, but it actually happened.
We pulled into a nice little breathing shack, well, that what I call it, and we began to rest. We even witnessed it raining below us. We walked so high went above a cloud and it rained as we were looking down on it. It was a very cool experience. But when I talked about continuing to the top the consensus was that we all needed to head back down. On the outside I was saying, “Really, guys? You want to miss the opportunity of going to the top?” On the inside I was saying, “O, thank the Lord!”
Ever felt like this on your spiritual journey? Ever felt like you want to pull off the path and take a breather? If you have, you are not alone. I have desired this as well. I have felt like quitting because I was out of steam, out of gas, out of energy. You name it, I was out of it. I even asked myself the question, “What’s the use?” I even felt like there was no hope. Am I alone in this?
On the journey have you ever not seen past the illness, got a prodigal child who seems far from the road home, a career that is stuck at a dead-end road, can’t see past the mound of bills, or you can’t imagine life without the chemotherapy? Those are the times in our lives when we need a breather and we wonder if there is such a thing as hope.
But when we follow Jesus, something changes. Well, at least something can change. In Romans 5:5, Paul speaks of a hope that does not disappoint and flows no matter what our situation may be. I need a hope like that. How about you?
Yes, I know we need hope but it does lead to disappointment at times. How so? Well, I can think back to a birthday in which Isaac had planned out for himself. He wanted to spend the entire day on his birthday. He wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese and then to experience and all-out attack at a paintball park with friends. He also wanted to include the list of gifts that would make him older, like the iPad, iPhone and other electronic devices. He also wanted to throw in come ice cream to cap off the day.
Here is how the actually went down. He woke up and went to school even though going to school was not on his approved list of birthday activities list. We did get a chance to go out to eat, but it was at Pete’s and not Chuck E. Cheese. He opened some presents but none were to the extent that were on his list. That is how his day went. It was fun and we did celebrate him but it definitely was not what he was hoping for.
We are always hoping and yet almost always disappointed. We hope to make a team and we hope that people will like us. We hope to get the perfect job and we hope we will get a promotion once we get that job. We hope to have healthy kids and we hope one day the kids will leave the house. We hope for good health. We are always hoping, and yet at times we are always disappointed. You don’t make the team or the perfect prom date does not invite you. The right job does not come and as of this morning you have had it with those kids you hoped would be perfect.
Sometimes even when we get those things we hope for there is still disappointment. Things don’t measure up to our expectation. And after enough expectations don’t measure up, we lower them. We settle. We accept life as it is.
It does not have to be this way. Remember, Romans 5 when Paul said he found a hope that does not disappoint? In Philippians 3 he says, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” Why is this important? Paul was in prison chained to a guard. He was not only a prisoner but he was facing execution. Despite his hopeless situation he was focused on finding JOY.
Why? Because his hope was in the right place. He was a follower of Jesus and his joy was found in placing all his trust in Jesus.
We can place our hope in the wrong things. He wrote about false teachers (or fans of Jesus) who taught about hope in Jesus PLUS something else. Paul emphasized is it not Jesus plus anything. Followers whose hope is completely in Jesus will never face disappointment. The hope that we have in Him will never lead us to disappointment, but the hope we have in this world will cause disappointment.
We can be tempted to put our hope in jobs, education, marriage, parents, our kid’s success or even in financial security. These are all good things, but compared to following Jesus they are all garbage. Even beyond garbage, they will all cause disappointment if we put our hope in them.
If you are on your journey and you desire a breather and you are all out of hope don’t put your hope in things that will disappoint you. I can tell you about a hope that will not disappoint and His name is Jesus. Yes, you may be tired. I can understand that, but don’t quit. There is HOPE in the Savior!