The Hillside Journey
As I sat atop the grassy hill overlooking the choppy lake with the sun brightly overhead, I watched as Gia faced off against one of life’s most arduous challenges. The hill. To the unobservant and less coordinated, the hill is an obstacle that tests both your adaptability, perseverance, and sheer control over mind and body. Gia is poorly equipped for all aspects of the hill. With unwavering determination (or perhaps utter obliviousness) she wills herself to the task. The first few steps down the gentle slope land Gia quite squarely on all fours. Back up she goes though. Several more steps and she’s back to the ground. This process repeated more times than is reasonable to recount. But finally, with a bright 2 toothed smile she’s descends the hill. Chirping the whole way down she reaches the base and, after a few moments of flower picking and grass eating, she turns around to find the upward incline of the hill. Her mastery over navigating the complexities of the downhill have ill equipped her for the travel back up. Her understanding of the hill had given her confidence but, in truth, it was only a partial understanding. As hill-conquering parents we recognized the unlikely success of Gia’s ascent. Her only hope was with our guiding hands and the hope that with our help she would soon enough be able to race down and climb up the hill on her own.
Children provide the best metaphors for life. As they traverse the unknowns of this physical world they adapt and learn and begin to understand how much they actually don’t understand. So too we as Christians. The message of this story is one about being equipped. It’s also one about knowing when you are ill-equipped.
Our success over trials can give us great confidence. And it should. But it should also keep us humble. It should tell us to keep learning, to keep reading, and to keep praying. As we often hear, you either grow stronger or you grow weaker. There is no staying the same.
When we overcome a temptation, when we defend our faith, when we stand strong in our Christian values we sometimes forget where that strength and that knowledge comes from. Certainly not from within or anything of man. But of God. We descend that hill enough times and we begin to forget about the treacherous consequences of a fall. We become complacent. Descending the hill can also place us in a false sense of confidence as we glide down with the aid of gravity. Ascending the hill is much harder. It requires a higher knowledge and control of the body. It requires strength when there is none. The easiest way to ascend the hill is with the help of others and with the help of our Lord.
Be diligent to hone your faith that you may stand against the unknown wiles of the world and prove yourselves acceptable to God. Grow your faith daily and rely on the strength of that faith, and of the faith of others, through Christ when both descending and ascending the hill.
2 Peter 1:1-11
“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”