"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:31

 

I often go hiking at a favorite park near where I live. There's a trail I love because the payoff is a beautiful view at the top of the ridge. It's a tough climb to do nonstop (at least for me) but I decided to hike it the other day because a few months prior, I had carved the word "Hope" with a heart below it into one of the trees at the top. It was to remind me to remain hopeful that God knew the desires of my heart. I wondered if it was still visible.

Lately there have been a lot of things pressing into my life and heart that have been so difficult, I've been fighting depression, loneliness and hopelessness (just being honest here). After going through a cancer battle and divorce, this season of singleness I'm in now seems even harder because I'm emotionally fatigued from everything that happened before it. I began to talk to the Lord about it as I started up the long, winding trail. It was sweltering outside and I began to get tired. As I neared the top, my feet felt heavy like lead, my lungs were burning and I had no strength left. I could see the top of the ridge a short distance away but it seemed like miles. I cried out, "Lord, I'm so tired! I can't do this anymore. I'M SO TIRED!!" I finally stopped, bent over and started sobbing. I had nothing left in me to get to the top literally or figuratively. I knew this was a spiritual lesson being taught in the physical.

He spoke to my heart, "Debi, look back and see how far you've come. You've journeyed 90% of the way. You're almost there! Don't give up! Don't settle for 90% when there's only 10% left!

Again, I cried and said, "But God, I have NO strength left. My heart (and my body) hurt so much! I have nothing left in me to go this last distance.

He said, "That's right, you don't. You will make it the rest of the way by the power of my Holy Spirit."

I began to walk again. To my surprise, I could "feel" a push on my back, helping me up the hill. I was able to walk faster and faster with a strength that didn't feel like my own. Even though it was still difficult, I was practically running the last 5% of the way and reached the top in no time. He again told me to look down the path and said, "Look! You almost stopped right down there. You were so close to the top and you nearly gave up at 90%." Then, I felt Him excitedly urging me on to find the tree I'd been seeking. When I found it, I started crying. To my great joy, the word "Hope" with the heart beneath it was as completely visible as the day I carved it on there. In fact, it had matured from the fresh green of the initial etching to a beautiful light brown against the dark bark of the tree. And the Lord spoke to my heart again...

"My hope never fades."

Are you walking through something right now that feels as though it will never end? Are you so tired and worn out that you feel like giving up or settling for something less than God's best just to ease the pain? Even though the last 10% before breakthrough is the most difficult, it is in this very place of our greatest weakness where His greatest strength is manifested ("But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9). Don't give up! Don't lose heart! His strength is empowering you this last 10% toward a HOPE that never, ever fades or disappoints.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:12-14

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This song has been my anthem this week: "You are my help! You are my hope! I sing of Your faithfulness alone.  You are my strength, King of all days, my glory will shout your praise!"