Of Desert Hills and
Avoid hollow victories by bringing God into
the middle of winter while hiking with my parents,
we walked, climbed and stumbled through the
mountainous desert hills of Arizona. From every
vantage point we could see small mountains covered
with an array of desert flowers in early bloom,
and rocks of every color, style and assortment.
After walking the ravines for a time, I set
my sights higher.
on by the untamed surroundings, I began hiking
to the top of one rather imposing hill. I urged
my Dad to climb with me. "From up there,
I'm sure we'll be able to see everywhere,"
I told him, and he agreed to join me. Surely,
from that high point our vision would be unimpaired,
granting us the clearest and best of views.
our way upward, we picked our way through loose
stones and stubble. Not wanting to miss a single
perspective, we often turned back to pause,
catch our breath, and comment on how far we'd
come. Peeling off our jackets, we wiped our
brows and made a final turn. We'd done it. Beautiful!
From the bottom, faithful Mom took our picture
and called up her congratulations.
too soon we had to begin laboring our way back
down. Anyone who has climbed knows that while
getting to the top can be a challenge, getting
back down can be treacherous. We often paused
to measure our next step, gingerly placing each
foot to test the rock stability. More than once,
it appeared we were going down...way down...way
about the wisdom of such a climb, we eventually
took that last tenuous step unto rock solid
heaven. Getting back to the ravine took twice
as long as the climb upward.
As we continued our walk that afternoon, I reflected
about other times I'd ambitiously climbed upwards,
only to discover neither beauty nor accomplishment
awaited me. I had forged ahead, oblivious to
the dangers and unconcerned about those I might
cause to stumble along the way. Determined to
go my own way, I closed the door to other options.
My victory walk became a beleaguered attempt
to convince myself that winning was the only
step, one decision at a time carves us into
who we are and who we will become. How hollow
victory is when we have given everything in
the effort to prevail, but in the process of
climbing we leave behind a trail of wounded
relationships and other debris. True strength
and real accomplishment come not only in reaching
the top, but in also ensuring we don't lose
ourselves on the journey.
may not know what is on the other side of the
next hill. We may not be able to predict what
lies at the bottom of the hill we're celebrating
on right now. Those old familiar Bible words
echo, "Be still and know that I am God."
Be still? Yes. Quietly, purposefully, make it
so. Rest in the knowledge that God is bigger
than our plans and designs.
knowing that God cares, we can better evaluate
our tomorrows. With Him in the formula, life
becomes more than trudging up one hill after
another. In time, we learn to measure the repercussions
awaiting us on the trip back down...before we
take the first step upward.
gives way to restful calm. Immediacy gives way
to appreciation. Purpose and fulfillment is
finally, truly discovered in recognizing our
part in life's grand scheme.
Howe is a freelance writer living in LaSalle,
Michigan with her husband and four children.
She is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly,
CBA Marketplace, and CCM Magazine. Howe has
published over 700 articles and reviews and
is the author of eight books including, "Prayers
to Nourish a Woman's Heart" and "Prayers
for Homeschool Moms" (publication date:
spring, 2003). These books can be ordered online
by clicking on the links above (via Amazon.com).
you know God personally? Read:
Peace with God