The Gillette Grove hill. About 10 miles from my childhood home, it wasn’t super steep but it went on for.ev.er. I’m certain it was
miles upon milesat least a mile. It was the litmus test in our family of whether one was ready to survive RAGBRAI, a 500+ mile, 7-day bike ride across Iowa. If you could ride Gillette Grove, you could do anything! My parents liked to bike it and they’d make me go with them once in a while. I hated that hill.
Now that I am a lot older and just a little more mature, I found my own hill. Huntington Hill is a quarter-mile hill with a relatively steep incline that takes you out of the river valley of our little neighborhood. Once at the top, sometimes I can get a quick view of our village and the river that runs through it. I have been running the hill (I’d still rather run than bike up that thing) about two times a week since spring. Some days, it’s a real challenge at the end of my morning runs. But it has been integral to making me stronger as a runner. Hill running not only increases muscle power and strength but it even uses more upper-body muscles than flat running.
Hill training is very demanding at first because you work muscles that you don’t use very often while running. There were a few times in the beginning I had to slow down (and blink *a lot*) because I was lightheaded about 2/3 the way up. However, the more you hill train, the easier it becomes. I definitely notice that even though I am putting in fewer miles than I did last year, my runs are overall faster and easier on my body. I especially noticed during the Warrior Dash that this strength allowed me to power up a beastly hill that had everyone walking. As a competitive person, I was thrilled.
In a similar way, God puts mountains in our lives to make us stronger spiritually. He can use difficulties, pain, suffering, and trials to give us even just a little more wisdom and discernment and, I think even more importantly, the ability to comfort and encourage others. You may have to use some spiritual muscles for the first time or in a new way, but you will be stronger in your faith for it. We may not understand our suffering, just as we cannot fully grasp the depth of God’s love for each one of us. But continue to stretch and grow your faith in Him, and not your circumstances, and you may get just a glimpse of the good He can bring from any situation. Don’t you think Job was so thankful he had chosen to believe God and remain faithful during the most difficult battle of his life? Can you even imagine the thrill he got when he recognized the spiritual battle going on and that He had God on His side?
I know that God can move mountains. But He can also see us through them. Then, when you reach the top, God can really show His glory. Amen! If we didn’t have mountains to climb in our lives, how would we enjoy the view on the other side?
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”