In this week of Thanksgiving, let us take stock of our blessings and give our thanks to our Good, Good Father for His most gracious blessings, the greatest of which is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ!
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.
Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV
On our recent epic adventure, Eric and I followed the eastern coastline of Lake Michigan as we made our way toward the Upper Peninsula. Our route led us through quaint coastal towns that afforded occasional glimpses of Lake Michigan’s pristine shoreline.
Coming around a bend in the road, we spotted a scenic overlook poised high upon a steep hill. The sign announced the location was called “Inspiration point”. With a grin of mischief, I turned to Eric and said, “Well, we must stop. I always need inspiration!“
Pulling into the parking area, we spied several picnic tables positioned with a beautiful view of the lake. It seemed a perfect place for a bite of lunch. Pulling out our little stash of food from our cooler, Eric and I sat down to enjoy our picnic with a million dollar view.
As we were packing up the remains of our luncheon, Eric noticed a sign indicating that there was an observation deck on the other side of the bustling parking lot. We decided to go exploring.
As we made our way toward the towering observation deck, we passed a large group of tourists gathered near the base of the imposing wooden structure. There was a buzz of conversation amongst the crowd as they took in the stellar view. One of the group members angled over toward the steps of the observation deck to read the posted sign.
“88 steps! There are 88 steps to the top of this thing!”, she cried in dismay.
Another man called out, “No way! I’m not doing that. I’d never make it.“
Still another commented, “I’d never get up those steps!”
“It’s just too hard! Forget it!“, said another lady, shaking her head fervently.
Passing by the disgruntled crowd, Eric and I made our way over to the lofty staircase. Eric looked at the sign and cocked his head at me, “88 steps?”
I smiled back at him, “Come on. Let’s do it!”
Slow and steady, we began our ascent up the stairs, giving thanks for our morning gym workouts. Higher and higher, we climbed, sneaking an occasional peek over our shoulders at the view. We could tell that it was going to be worth the effort.
Reaching the top step and emerging onto the viewing platform, I caught my breath in amazement. It was absolutely gorgeous! Lake Michigan stretched out before me, its clear blue waters stirring gently in the breeze. Swirls of aqua and royal blue mingled across the shoreline where white sand glistened in the blazing sunlight. Tiny coastal villages twinkled in the distance, so picture perfect that they could have been a postcard.
The water seemed to go on and on forever. I could not see the end of its reach. I had the sense that I was at the ocean, for the water stretched all the way to the horizon. Never had I seen such a lake.
It was a perfect day with brilliant sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. Eyes fixed on that gorgeous expanse of water, Eric and I decided that the place was aptly named, for the view was truly inspiring.
We were glad that we had not been deterred by the negativity of the crowd. We had persevered, exerting ourselves, pushing ourselves to new heights. Our efforts were not in vain. That incredible scene had been worth every step.
Standing there on that observation deck, I paused to wonder. How often are we deterred by the negativity around us? How often do the comments of others take the wind out of our sails? How often do we listen to the negative voices around us, telling us that we are not good enough or strong enough or brave enough to do what needs to be done? How often do we give in to failure without even putting up a fight? We don’t try, therefore, we don’t succeed.
Sometimes, the negative voices around us are the loudest. Often, It is easier to admit defeat than to push through the difficulty. Yet, when we give in to our limitations, we miss tremendous opportunities to live abundantly. When we spend our time bickering and complaining, the negative energy kills our joy.
God has a purpose for each of our lives. He has a good plan for us, but the work He has ordained for us is not always easy. Trials and hardships abound in this earthly life. While it is far easier to give up than to go on, we miss so much when we don’t stay the course.
To claim the prize God has in store for us, we must push forward and do the things God has called us to do…Even when they are hard, even when we are tired. Yes, even when we can’t see the end in sight, we must trust and press on boldly, climbing the steps to the finish
Standing there on that platform, Eric and I smiled at one another and took a selfie, proud of our accomplishment. Had we not put forth the effort, we would have missed a spectacular sight.
To reach new heights, we must stop complaining and start thanking. We must focus on our blessings instead of continuing our bickering. We must step up and step out. To live abundantly, we must firm up our trust muscles and just press on toward the prize.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 – NIV
O Heavenly Father, Great is Your Faithfulness. You have blessed us beyond measure. You have loved us with an unfailing love. You have forgiven our iniquity and extended Your Great Grace. Lord, thank You for all You have given us, most especially the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Because of His Great Sacrifice, we can live free, full of hope for tomorrow, for He is our Hope of Glory. O Lord, be with those less fortunate. Comfort all those who are suffering, sick, or discouraged. May they too know Your Peace, the Peace that passes all understanding. Thank You, Jesus!
In the Beautiful Name of Jesus, we give our thanks and praise,