Reaching Higher

July 2, 1998
by Mary Chudley

Psalm 121:1-4

    I will lift up my eyes to the hills;
    From whence comes my help?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.
    He will not allow your foot to be moved;
    He who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
    Will neither slumber nor sleep.

I am working for St. David's Presbyterian Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, this summer. The beauty I see in creation every day, astounds me as I ride my bicycle through the hills of Kelowna. The other day, as I was riding along the valley, I could feel in my legs that I was climbing, even when it seemed level. Finally, I had a breakaway and the slope ahead of me looked steep and long. My legs pushed the frustrations of my day into my pedals. The pavement turned into soft gravel and my bike started to slip and slide forward and backward. So, with a few backtracks, I climbed as far as I could go. Frustration filled me as I could no longer have any view of the valley and I seemed so far from the top of the mountain. I wanted some sort of reward, as my legs shook with over-exertion. Then I saw a little pathway that led up somewhere. I made my way up between some large rocks and dirt. I came to a little clearing and saw my reward. That beautiful, refreshing evening mist literally hung over the valley. I could see Okanagan Lake far off in the sunset, and the lush green of the valley dripping with blooms and life. The green of the valley contrasted with the pink and blue of the evening sky. I listened and could hear nothing except the dancing of creation shouting around me. I too shouted with praise! I never wanted this vision to leave my mind or my focus. As I reluctantly headed down the mountain, into the valley, my bike plummeted faster and faster until I felt as though I could soar to the mountains on the west side of the valley into the setting sun. My eyes squinted against the bright sunlight and the sweat froze on my arms and face. When I reached the bottom, I felt cold and let-down. I had wanted that struggle to continue. I did not want to relax. I had not wanted that break by coming down the mountain.

It had been a positive struggle and I had wanted more. I had not let myself be satisfied with the struggle. I had wanted to push for more. I compared this to the struggle I have with and around beliefs and world-views. There seems to be joy in the triumph of struggle, but it was the struggle that had been the triumph. When the down time came, when I should be glad that I had struggled and had a break, I had wanted more. I believe that incredible beauty which had hung for me over the valley had been enough for me to be strengthened to continue. We need to recognize that within that struggle and around it, we must continue to push, to be not satisfied with the beauty, but to be challenged by the beauty to come to a higher place of knowledge, enabling us to look back at the struggle which brought us to the new place.

What blessing — what challenge!

I am content to struggle and excited to see the beauty within that struggle and that which lies behind me. I never want to reach the top, perhaps, though for some reason that is what I will aim for the next time I get on my bike.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the mountains of beauty and of struggle which you have given us in our lives. We often resist climbing them and need help in the struggle upwards. We celebrate as we grow and find peace in the end of struggle. Help us to be at peace in the quiet times which you have also given us to rest within, to be renewed within and to be refreshed, knowing that we will struggle again with your peace, your guidance, your promise of protection and your awesome hand of beauty. Bestow upon us your peace, show your face of peace and allow us to seek that peace when the mountains loom or when they beckon us with excitement. Help us never to be afraid to grow. Amen.

About the author:

Mary Chudley
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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