“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9, NASB
Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.” – Charles Spurgeon
Failure stinks. Failure because of fear is devastating.
I’m not a quitter. I push through things with (probably annoying) determination. So when I failed to summit a peak several years ago, the disappointment I felt was increased significantly by the shock others displayed by my sudden breach of character. “Why didn’t you summit?” This was the echoing question of the day. I hated that my honest answer was a cowardly one. “Because I became afraid, and I could not go on.”
Sometimes that kind of failure propels a person like me. Sometimes, however rarely, it paralyzes us. In that case, I was grounded. I never wanted to try to summit another mountain again. That very real, cold fear snuck into my sleep, disturbed my day-to-day living, and shriveled my confidence.
But I’ve been on top of some mountains since then. Fourteeners, actually. But not because I overcame that terror–not by myself. My husband developed a taste for high altitude after summiting Long’s Peak, and he wanted me to give the thin air another try. He picked a peak he thought we’d enjoy together and spent two years convincing me to go. “I’ll be right there with you, Jen. When you’re afraid, I’ll be there. When you’re tired, I’ll be there. We’ll do it together, and you’ll get to the top this time.”
His strength saw me through my fear. And my first glimpse at the world on a fourteen-thousand foot high peak was amazing. I don’t regret going, and I’m so grateful to my husband for ‘making’ me try it again.
I know the illustration breaks down, but there’s a bit of spiritual truth in that journey. Here are some things I’ve taken away from that experience:
- Pride can take us places where we end up feeling cornered—trapped. At some point we all need to admit we cannot do everything, especially not on our own.
- There are some things I simply cannot do in my own strength.
- Sometimes God allows failure to show us our weakness.
- Sometimes God takes us back to that weakness to show us His strength.
There are times our souls will cower in terror. Sometimes we quit. But God is calling, reassuring our feeble hearts, “I am with you. I am always with you, and I will see you safely through.”
And I’m pretty sure that just like that first summit was for me, the journey will be worth it. Can we take courage in his strength?