A brother and sister were climbing a steep mountain trail in Norway. The melting snow and flowing water had washed away much of the soil, so the protruding stones and roots on the rising path looked all the more challenging. As the two children struggled toward the top, pulling and steadying each other, the girl said, "Peter, this isn't a path at all! It's all rocky and bumpy!"
The boy answered, "That's true, but the bumps are what you climb on."
Mountain climbers know that well. Some even carry man-made "bumps" and attach them to the crags they scale.
But most of us don't need to look for additional stepping stones, for God has them all laid out for us. They are a vital part of life for those who "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14) If we keep our eyes on Him, the intimidating rocks only aid our journey toward His goal. His gentle guiding hands lift us onward and upward in spite of the obstacles on the way.
Our Shepherd models the bumpy way to victory. He left His heavenly splendor and laid aside His rights, riches, majesty and honor. Born in a dirty, smelly animal shelter, He reminds us that here on this earth we have no more claim to earthly comforts than did our King. His confusing conception seemed shameful in the eyes of man and His life-long mission led to humiliating death on the cross. But then came the resurrection, and everything changed. His words to his friends set our minds on His triumphs in the midst of trials:
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33
His brother, James, had also learned to climb higher on the bumps of life. Now he calls us to follow:
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-3
The world around us shouts a contrary message: Look out for number one, fight for your rights, imagine a god that fits your vision, create your own reality, have faith in yourself.... For you have power within to be the architect, the initiator, the creator... You are in control. You can be like God.
These tempting lies offer an enticing illusion of a smooth, wide highway to happiness if only you get in touch with your dreams and desires. But it mocks God's path, purpose and provision for us: the way of the cross. No wonder so few chose the narrow, bumpy road.
Our all-sufficient King offers us power to triumph over the daily bumps. He may not lift us out of the painful trials that test our faith and endurance. But, unlike the false promises of the deceiver, God's promises come with the power and authority to win the war -- no matter how fierce the battle. Unlike the deceiver, He doesn't promise an easy life, worldly happiness or a smooth pathway, but He will give us the strength and perseverance to overcome every obstacle to a joyful life with Him forever.
How can we demonstrate the triumph of this narrow, bumpy way to those who are traveling on the popular wide highway to death?
On our own, you and I can't love the unlovable, reach the unreachable, or scale impossible heights. But Jesus, the sovereign Lord of the universe lives in us. Nothing is impossible for Him. May He demonstrate to our neighbors, friends and families His mighty overcoming power in us -- amazing triumphs that are all the more visible and amazing because the bumps we climb on seem so impassible.
"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24
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