You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. Acts 2:28
I have recently started to hit the trail a bit again, since the weather is so spectacular now here in Arizona. I grew up hiking, so it is something familiar to me. I greet the trail like an old friend. Hiking is a bit like life. I have been on some hikes that I absolutely thought I could go no further. The trail became the enemy and I hated every step I took, I cursed every bend and corner. The end result was the only thing that kept me going. That, and the fact that I had encouragers along the way. The funny thing was though, once I got to the top I tended to forget how hard it was. With distance, the pain faded a bit. Its easy to laugh about knees shaking like jackhammers after you’re off the trail.
In life and hiking there are times when you reach a point where you simply don’t have it in you to keep going.
In one of Martin Luther Kings recorded sermons he tells about such a time. He had just gotten another phone call, a death threat, threatening he and his whole family. Not long before he had been arrested and thrown in jail for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. He was sitting at his kitchen table, a cold cup of coffee before him. He was trying to figure a way out. How he could turn it all over to someone else and go back to the quiet life of a scholar like he had planned. Here is how he describes that moment:
“I discovered then that religion had to become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I will never forget it……I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, “Lord, I am down here trying to do what’s right. I think I’m right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage.”
It was then that he heard an inner voice…….”Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world.” Three nights later a bomb exploded on the front porch of King’s home, filling the house with smoke and broken glass but injuring no one. He took it calmly: “My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it.”
We have all reached that crossroads…….we ask the question: “How can I get out of this?” We can’t take another step. We want escape. But it is at that point where the Holy Spirit comes in and does what we can’t do. He takes over…….Peter was at that point after he denied Jesus, but what happened just a few days after that? The day of Pentecost! After Peter was done preaching those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
Lord, I am thankful for all those who didn’t give up in the fight for freedom. The ones still fighting today. I thank you for Your Precious Holy Spirit because now you are not only walking beside us, but are actually within us! Thank you for all those times when You picked me up when I thought I couldn’t go on. I continue numbering my gifts today, though I know I can never put a number on what you have done, it is infinite……the numbers teach me much about You……sleeping in peace without angry steps at the door…..getting to enjoy the view after the climb…..the prayers of encouragers along the way……freedom to learn……to go to school without fear….to worship without fear….open windows without bars……weakness that causes me to lean on You…..laughter to lighten the way……little streams that sing songs of hope….yes you can! #598-608