Even now that I’ve grown up, that hill still looks steep. My grandparents’ farmhouse sat at the top, and at the bottom, Granddaddy’s tin-roofed store huddled between a curvy road and a meandering creek. A gravel driveway wound gently from house to store, but whenever Grandmother asked me to fetch something she needed in the kitchen, I took the shortcut instead–scrambling through the rails of the whitewashed yard fence and across the wide flat rock, hopping over fresh cow pies and avoiding blackberry brambles, galloping barefoot straight down to the barbed wire fence at the pasture’s edge.
Across the road, I’d pull from Granddaddy’s wooden shelves whatever Grandmother had asked for—a bottle of ketchup, maybe, while dodging his teasing. (“Cat soup? Why does she need cat soup? Our cats eat mice!”) Loaded down with the ketchup, and maybe a sack of sugar and a can or two of people soup besides, I’d start the climb back to the house.
The hill was a lot steeper going up, and I got tired. I always wanted to quit, but I never did. For one thing, I knew my supper depended on my faithfulness. And I had learned a trick that seemed to flatten the slope: I just kept looking down. As long as I looked only at my next step, I didn’t sense the steepness of the path or notice how far I had to go. I’d lower my chin and take one step, one step, one step at a time. Enough steps in a row, and I’d be at the top, crossing the rock, scrambling through the fence and up the wide stone kitchen steps toward Grandmother’s grateful smile.
My childhood climbing technique is still useful on morning walks and mountain hikes. It’s even more useful when I stand before a daunting mountain of ministry obligations with duties squatting solidly on my shoulders and uncertainties weighing heavily on my mind, when unsought but inescapable responsibilities have amassed into a hefty load and unwelcome changes that call for me to adjust and adapt have plopped onto my path like giant, stinky cow pies.
When that happens, I’d much rather quit and sit (or run away) than press on. But I’ve discovered that if I will stop staring up the trail and instead lower my chin to focus only on the task at hand (not a bad posture for prayer while I’m at it) and take one step, one step, one step at a time, before I know it, I’ll have climbed even the scariest peak. My welcome at the top is the smile of the One Who gave me strength sufficient for every step (Deuteronomy 33:25). Then I find it easy to praise Him, for looking back down the path, it’s obvious that even with the help of my trusty climbing technique, that hill was way too steep for me.
(Used by permission)