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I don’t like stairs.  I don’t do them well.  I take a step up and my left knee lets me know that cartilage is a word I should understand.  Still, back in May, I felt God’s nudge for me to commit to “doing the Incline”.  My first reaction was that He was nuts.  At least, that’s what I thought of everyone else who did the Incline.  Seems they do it for fun.  Fun?  Perhaps they don’t know what the word means.

 

Fun = enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure. 

 

Key word…pleasure.

 

Sweat and pleasure are not words that go together in my head.  Or at least, they weren’t.  Well, maybe they were a few years back but that was a few years back.

 

I’m doing the State of Slim program outlined in the book of the same name.  Research shows that to lose weight, nutrition is the driving force.  To keep the weight off, exercise is paramount.  With that in mind, one of the key facets to the program is exercising 6 days a week for a minimum of 70 minutes.  And yes, I have been doing it.  Just ask my knees.

 

They call sweating, “Making your fat cry.”  I really like that.  Cry away baby.

 

So…I did the incline.  Because God told me to commit to it and because I told you in a previous blog that I would.  This was my practice run.  I thought I’d bail at the half waypoint with no shame whatsoever.  I didn’t.  I made it to the top one slow step after the other and my fat wasn’t crying, it was wailing and gnashing its teeth.

 

But it wasn’t merely hard.  It was holy.

 

In front of me, setting the pace was my son Blaine followed closely by his wife Emilie.  Now, these two are in shape.  Just to let you know how good of shape, Blaine climbed the Incline with my younger son a couple of years ago with a municycle (think mountain bike meets unicycle) strapped to each of their backs.  They did this so they could ride down the Barr trail after reaching the top.  By the way, it’s 1 mile up with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet and 4 miles back down using the side trail.  Did I mention the municylcle?

 

All that to say is, Blaine could have run up the Incline.  But he didn’t.  He was ever before me keeping the pace at a slow and steady rhythm.  People passed us and then later on, we passed them as they gasped for breath.  Blaine knew what he was doing.

 

Behind me was my husband, John.  He is another person who is in fantastic shape.  I would feel his touch gentle on my back a few times as we went up just to let me know he was there.  And once, once he caught me as I lost my balance and slipped on the dirt.  He Was Right There.  He never even thought of passing me.

 

I was surrounded.

 

I was surrounded by family and a great cloud of witnesses supporting me, cheering me on, encouraging me, believing in me, going the distance with me.

 

I was surrounded by love.  I was surrounded by mercy.  I was surrounded by their humble sacrifice and I was weeping.

 

That’s what I mean by holy.  It was their choice to accompany me and they would say it was their joy.  They were JOYFUL.  My sweat was dripping on the dirt in front of me, my tears streaming down my face, plop, plop, plop and THEY WERE JOYFUL.

 

It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross.  He didn’t have to.  He chose to. 

 

You and I are forever surrounded by love.  We are surrounded by mercy.  We are surrounded by our King’s humble sacrifice and it is worth our grateful tears.

 

God invites us to do hard things but He never abandons us in them.  He helps us to prepare.  He strengthens us on the way.  He urges us on.  He delights in our tries and he celebrates our victories.  He rejoices over us with singing.  He relishes our faith.  He loves it when we make our flesh weep and gnash its teeth.

 

As I climbed the Incline, I had my headset on, music playing in my ears.  “Strong Enough” by Matthew West was a theme.  Know that one?

 

You must think I'm strong

To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me

Forgive me if I'm wrong

But this looks like more than I can do

On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be

everything that I'm supposed to be

I give up

I'm not strong enough

Hands of mercy won't you cover me

Lord right now I'm asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

For the both of us

Well, maybe

Maybe that's the point

To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally

Finally at rock bottom

Well, that's when I start looking up

And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be

Everything that I'm supposed to be

I give up

I'm not strong enough

Hands of mercy won't you cover me

Lord right now I'm asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

 

It was pretty perfect.  God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  If He tells me to do something then I know He will give me the strength to do it.  One foot in front of the other.  One step at a time. 

 

Beloved, we can trust Him.  Is He asking you to do something difficult?  He will give you the strength.

 

Psalm 28:7, Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 2:10, Lamentations 3:22, 23, Phil 2:5, Zeph 3:17

 

P.S.  I’m committing to doing the Incline again at the end of this month.  I’ll post the date on my Stasi Eldredge Facebook page when I know it and if you’d like to join me, one slow step at a time, please do!

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About Stasi

Stasi Eldredge loves writing and speaking to women about the goodness of God. She spent her childhood years in Prairie Village, Kansas, for which she is truly grateful. Her family moved to Southern California back in the really bad smog days when she was ten. She loved theatre and acting and took a partiality to her now husband John...READ MORE

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