Hill Climbing is Good for the Heart

In my devotions this morning I read this quote:

‎”The land is full of hills and valleys. It is not all smooth nor all downhill. The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah, so it is with us! It is the hill difficulty that drives us to the throne of grace and brings down the showers of blessing.” (N.L. Zindendorf)

After posting this on my facebook, a friend from up north mentioned there being no hills or valleys in Florida. Smile. But the ups and downs are alive and well in my heart!

Over the months I’ve definitely felt like I’ve been doing some serious hill climbing. The combination of health issues, family happenings (both fun and challenging) and changing circumstances (including starting a new church and anticipating our second move in 18 months) have found my mind and heart swirling. Throw my sin into the mix and…well…the hills and valleys have been on display!

In the midst of my ups and downs — which can swing back and forth from day to day — I have found the unchanging truths of God’s word and His uninterrupted nearness to be my strength.

Life changes.

Jobs get lost or transfers come.

Unplanned things that cost money happen.

Sin erupts.

Hormones fluctuate.

Kids make messes…in your home and in your heart.

Sickness strikes.

Friends disappoint.

Fears stalk.

Children grow up and leave home.

Sleep evades.

In the midst of all the changes, fluctuations, drift, eruptions, disappointments, unplanned happenings and disorienting shifts of life there is One who never changes. He who is the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8) is sitting down on His throne.  He is not pacing; fretful; concerned. He is still. In control. At peace. Ever watchful yet unruffled.

Yesterday I slipped from my hill climbing into a valley of worry and anger. Today the truth about Who God is — His unchanging character and sovereign control — is lifting me back onto the path.

I hate climbing hills. When I use the treadmill I keep the levels flat. I know it’s not as good for my heart as the incline upward, but I congratulate myself that I’m at least on it. Plus, I know I’m out of shape so I figure I’ll work up to a more vigorous routine.

In some areas I’m also out of spiritual shape. We are all a work in progress. We are weak. Needy. Frail. But God is strong and mighty to save. The ups and downs of life tempt me to be discouraged and weary. But remembering God’s unchanging, always faithful, forever present, unmoving strength governs my changing heart and life.

I hope these verses encourage you today as they have me:

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,and rthe heavens are the work of your hands.They will perish, but tyou will remain;they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end” (Ps 102:25-27).

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

He is the same. He does not change. He never varies.

When “all other ground is sinking sand” it’s comforting to know He is the solid rock on which we stand.