“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
If I had to paint a portrait of my life, I would paint a picture of a mountain just like this one. At the base of the mountain, there I’d be, staring upon the snowy peaks paralyzed by fear. Wanting so desperately to reach the top, yet forgetting about the path that leads me there.
I come from a generation conditioned for instant gratification. We want it, and we want it NOW! In the world of Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes we can have almost anything we want with the click of a button. The problem is, genuine fulfillment doesn’t work that way. Sorry folks, there’s no app for that. It takes work, dedication, endurance, and consistency. It takes plugging away at your goals, facing each challenge as it arises and pushing through. But more importantly, it takes faith.
My whole life I’ve stood in my own way. When life hasn’t progressed in the direction I’ve wanted it to fast enough, when the goal has seemed too far out of sight, I’ve become discouraged and given up. Time after time I’ve been left feeling unworthy, incapable, and completely defeated. I’ve particularly struggled with this in terms of my education.
Society tells us that after high school we should go directly to college, finish our degree in 4-5 years and then at the end, we will be awarded with a nice job and a happy life. Yeah…I’ve been in college for 9 years. NINE YEARS. Maybe that’s no record, but its still a longtime, nearly a decade! Sure, I’ve taken some breaks here and there, which I could tell you were because I wasn’t sure college was the right path for me, but in all honesty, it was because I didn’t think I could do it.
But for the last two years, I’ve consistently been plugging away at my degree. And although taking online classes feels like I’m moving at a snail’s pace, the summit is within reach. For once in my life, I’m beginning to see how life goals really work. I can spend hours and hours daydreaming about my future, or, I can go out and find it! I’ll never reach the top of the mountain by staring at it. Only by putting one foot in front of the other and slowly making my way to the top will I reach the summit. There, God will reveal to me his grand purpose for my life. But I have to follow him each step of the way, refusing to let him out of my sight.
“Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, ‘Follow me’.” (John 21:19)
We may be fearful and uncertain about our future, but if we know God is in control, we can confidently follow Christ. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. We can either turn around and head back down the mountain, or, we can turn our gaze to Jesus and persavere to the top. See, our suffering isn’t merely for God’s amusement, but rather for a profound purpose. Our suffering reminds us of Christ’s suffering, it keeps us from pride, and forces us to look beyond our brief life on earth. It gives us an opportunity to prove our faith to others and to demonstrate God’s power.
Lao Tzu once said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” I pray that God continues to remind me to live in the present. To trust that the top of the peak is coming, but remain steadfast on the path he has laid out before me.