Listen to this devotional:
Isaiah 40:3-5 – A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (NIV)
Persistence is something I struggle with, as life takes me into challenge after challenge. "Up and over" has often been my motto before I recognized that I am struggling alone instead of submitting — submitting to God's helping hand. "Why must I go this way, Lord? What blessing is in this? How will this strengthen me?"
Those of us who live in British Columbia often stare out at mountain peaks morning after morning as the sun's rays touch majestic crowns with a pink glow. During life's stressful moments, I look up at the mountain outside my window and stand amazed at God's creative hand. Wow! What a sight! It looks beautiful from a distance, but who among us are mountain climbers? I sure am not! I like gently walking along the valleys where God has already laid out a level route for the road ahead.
How would I have managed taking a heavy load in a covered wagon as the first settlers to the Peace River had to do — up, up, and over a mountain? Would I have struggled with a piano, for instance, taking it up and over the Rocky Mountains along a cord road? Yes, it really happened, as I found out when listening by the hour to the stories of some amazing pioneer settlers. The cord roads were tree trunks laid side by side up the mountainside, through the mud. I could barely fathom it as the horse must have pulled the covered wagon up, up, and over onto the next log. Persistence must have been the order of the day.
The process was slow, for all the boxes were first unloaded at the bottom of the mountain, leaving the piano to ride up alone to a midway stopping place, where it was unloaded. Down they went again to load the crates and boxes. Over and over, up and down, settlers and covered wagon struggled along that cord road until they reached their new home.
All of life is like that. The valleys can be brought low to a level terrain as we trust in God, but it is the mountains that shape us as we struggle up, up, and over. It is persistence that shapes faith. It is the call of the heavenly places that keeps us going. This was clear to me as that dear lady of long ago asked me to sit down at her piano — yes, the same piano — and play "Beyond the Sunset".
Prayer: Life is often a struggle, Lord, as we go forward in faith through this problem, through that challenge. Whether our struggle is over money, work, health, or relationships, teach us, O Lord, that persistence leads to a stronger faith. Each struggle fashions our faith with the rays of the Son, touching us, filling us with hope. This is when the "glory of the Lord" is revealed to us. Dear Lord, may Your glory be revealed to us today, calling us beyond the sunset. Amen.