As Felicity and I neared Charlotte, NC, on our way to Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Mountains appeared in the distance and then grew massive – surrounding us as we made our way up and through them. From the moment we got to our new place, I noticed almost everything was accessed via a hill – often times a steep hill. Tonight, Felicity and I are sitting on the patio, looking across the valley below. It made me think of our journey to this new place – literally and figuratively. About a year ago, my family began to descend into what would become the lowest valley we had ever traveled. We quickly found, as I did traveling to Pennsylvania, that the only way through the valley or up the mountain was to move forward and just do it. Just as I quickly had to adjust to the ups and downs of the Appalachians & Alleghenies, we had to adjust moment by moment to the unfortunate newness of cancer and its cruel impact to our lives. For the moment, I am looking from the vantage point of the hill. It’s peaceful. I am not troubled by what is “down there.” I am aware, however, that just as I have to make my way down to go to work and get groceries, etc., there are days in the valley ahead. You might be quick to respond, “I hope not! James, you have been through enough.” Thankfully, and I say this with love, you don’t plot the journey! I used to have this complex – that I had suffered enough in life and that I deserved something amazing. Why do I deserve something amazing, though? Have I not forgotten that God never promised an amazing life, as defined by humanity? Certainly not here! What God has promised to me, He has come through over and over again. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me – and He hasn’t. He has promised that when I come to Him and ask for wisdom and direction in life, He will steer me towards His best –and He has. He has promised rest, comfort, and a celebration when I come and admit my perpetual need of Him – and I do need Him. Finally, He has promised that He has provided a place for me to be with Him when I die – and I’ll take that final journey when it’s time.
Up on this hill, I am reminded that I am the recipient of undeserved grace. I am humbled by the hand that comforts a broken heart, that provides for my needs in such a way that I send constant thanks to heaven, and that taps on my heart to remind me to show my daughter and others the same patience and grace I have been shown. The bend in the road of our lives took us through the valley, up steep mountains, and rested us for a season on a hill. I am not owed this hill but it is another reminder of the presence of the One who has traveled with us the whole way.