Several weeks ago on a semi-mild winter day I set out for a long overdue bike ride, a rare treat given the season and the new demands on my personal schedule.
Since our move last summer to the Lower Central Susquehanna Valley my cycling outings have taken the form of a double-edged sword.
Allow me to explain.
What goes up must eventually come down and what goes down returns the favor by going up.
In short, I am speaking of the roads I travel.
The terrain “in these here woods” is naturally hilly.
At my former abode climbing hills was the exception, it is now the rule.
Honestly, I have come to embrace the uphill climbs.
On the last leg of my most recent, and quickly becoming my favorite, pedaling journey the home-stretch consisted of a three-quarter mile climb on a straight-away which then turned 90° to the left for the last quarter of a mile.
It is immediately followed by a one mile twosome of a level ride then downhill segment.
It quickly ends in another half-mile climb which parks me at my front door to finish.
The first time I tackled it was daunting.
With several cracks at it under my belt it still required effort, but the thoughts of “I can’t do this” seemed to dissipate.
On the recent ride, as I began the now familiar ascent my thoughts echoed the following sentiment – “there are treasures in the uphill climb.”
During the audio training John made the following statement.
“If you don’t remember anything else from this call, remember this – everything worthwhile is uphill!”
It’s worth repeating.
“Everything worthwhile is uphill!”
It caused me to reflect on my own journey.
I am not looking for a pity party, nor am I attempting to draw attention to myself except to be of benefit to another.
At times, much like you may have experienced or are experiencing, the journey has been anything but easy.
While the natural bent is inclined for the road to be flat and easy to travel, the uphill climbs have been the mainstay.
Hill after hill after hill has appeared in an apparent attempt to thwart my progress, your progress, toward whatever the destination may be.
The road I have traveled has been filled with its share of disappointments. It has been littered with the debris of life in several forms.
Although I (we) am by no means destitute, I have climbed some financial hills which have left me scrambling with the thought of I am nowhere near why I thought I would be at this stage of life.
Some of the hills I have climbed have been the result of what Dave Ramsey calls “stupid tax”, errors of omission or commission.
Some of the hills I have climbed have been the result of workplace “adventures” (aka – quitting a job, an initial job loss, a subsequent job misplacement, followed by another job loss) which left me reeling at times and have impacted multiple areas of life.
- All of the above experiences, and some of the dominoes connected to those experiences, have served to refine me.
- They have been the pedal stroke after pedal stroke exerted in my uphill climb.
- They have strengthened my character.
- They have given me a hope which is not my own and have served my betterment.
- They have built in me an endurance factor.
- They have served to get my eyes off the pressures and the pain and onto the treasures I have found in the uphill climb.
- They have helped me see with new eyes and have allowed me to find gold nuggets in life’s struggles.
And yes, “everything worthwhile has been uphill!”
When you or I are climbing the hills we face, there is an immediate distaste for the road which may be in front of us.
I get it.
Can I let you in on a little secret?
In the above description of what has become a favorite stretch of my literal uphill climb, as the road turns the 90° to the left I know I am near the end of the rise.
Although it is not equivalent to the Rockies’ or some other majestic ascent, it is the ascent which is mine.
As I take the final pedal-strokes before the road levels, I look to the left and my eyes soak in the beauty of the valley below and other things I see.
Open farm land. Cattle grazing. Planes soaring overhead.
It is breathtaking.
I have found the treasure in the uphill climb.
You have your own uphill climbs to scale.
There is a treasure in your uphill climb if you will allow the process of going uphill to unfold.
As I write this, I am thinking of a few uphill climbs in the experiences of those I know.
- One lovely lady has been battling cancer for the past six months. Her climb has not been easy. There are those who have helped her keep pedaling. Although her journey continues, there is a treasure in her uphill climb and in her own way she will surrender to the spectacular view which awaits her.
- Another has been in the process of launching a business while working full time. There has been setback after setback. There have been some personal struggles which have also littered the road and have been a distraction. Yet, he and his wife keep pedaling, despite the road heading skyward. It will level off and they will find the treasure in the uphill climb and they have come to embrace it already.
- Others have taken on the responsibility of raising their children’s kids. The journey has been unexpected but they too will at one point embrace the treasure in the uphill climb.
- Another couple has launched a ministry and their efforts seem slow but steady. There has been much sacrifice on their parts. They will get to reap what they are now sowing. They too will find the treasure in the uphill climb.
They have all been in my prayers at one point or another and will continue to be!
I am reminded of these words, which give us a different glimpse of the uphill climb.
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand (as we pedal forward!) and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (at the top of the hill!).
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” Roman 5: 2-5 NLT
In closing, whatever your uphill climb please keep pedaling.
I pray you know the joy of finding the treasure in the uphill climb too!
Photos Courtesy of Creative Commons and Todd Stoner