When I go hiking with my family I always bring up the rear. This began when they were little tikes in an attempt to keep them from wandering off the path or killing each other. John was the engine, leading the way through bush and brush and I was the caboose making sure no one was lost along the way.
It worked. Ok, it almost worked. No one was lost but certainly there were falls and scrapes and sticks and stones that cut and bruised and yes, there was that one time when somebody kicked a log only to discover the wasp nest underneath. Hey, we survived.
Truth is, I kind of liked pulling up the rear. I could see what was happening and better, I didn’t slow anyone down by my snail like pace. I’ve never been as fit as my mountain climbing, black belt earning, adventuring husband. But that’s been okay. Mostly. As soon as my sons could run, they could out run me. And that’s been okay, too. Pretty much. They are strong men.
What hasn’t felt so great is the praise I’ve gotten for making it to the top of the same hill everyone else has gotten to twenty minutes before me. “Way to go, Mom!” “Well done, Stasi!” Sheesh.
I’m looking forward to the day when my barely keeping up with the pack is not cause de celeb. (And yes, they are so kind and encouraging and I love them for it. But you get my point, right?)
Goals change as we get older and that’s a good thing. We mature. We wake up to the world around us. Some dreams get set aside out of a loss of heart but some get set aside because we got our heart back! We learn what truly matters. Regarding our beauty, hopefully we mature to understand that everything said about inner beauty being more important than outer beauty is ALL TRUE! It’s not the form of a woman’s body that’s of the utmost importance; it’s the form of her soul.
When I talk with younger women there is a burning desire that rises in my heart for them. It is the same one that I have for you, whatever your age may be, and for myself. I want them to be strong.
Strong in faith.
Strong in spirit.
Strong in their souls.
Strong as their bodies will allow.
I want them to pursue strength more diligently than flawless skin or a perfect figure or the lovely hair de jour. I want them seek it more passionately than straight A’s or being popular or chosen by others. I want them to choose themselves with strength of heart because they already have been chosen!
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. (John 15:16)
And that’s why my goal these days is no longer a number but increasing strength.
Strength will serve our girls and us well. It will help us all to stand upright and not fall down when pushed against by the world’s current. It will give us the courage to pursue God and serve Him wholeheartedly when those around us are chasing whatever the world says is currently “hip”. Strength will help us let the world’s vain promises slip through our fingers while by God’s grace we cling tenaciously to His.
That’s what grace means by the way. It doesn’t mean forgiveness. It means God’s supernatural strength through which we live a life that pleases Him, brings us and others joy and yes, bears much lasting fruit!
Last September I received an urgent request for prayer from the sister of a man who is a missionary in what is now ISIS controlled territory. Children were being given a choice to renounce Jesus or be killed while kneeling in front of their parents. At the time of his call, every single child had refused to renounce Jesus. His prayer request was that he too would have their same courage when they came for him.
“They overcome him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
and they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
For the Christian, death does not have the final say. Jesus has overcome death. It has lost its sting. Death is now the forerunner to Heaven. These children knew that and knelt to it, committing their spirits to God. I am in awe of them. I want to be like them.
This is the kind of strength I am talking about and it doesn’t roll in on a tray. It is cultivated day by day by a deep and steadfast pursuit of and belief in the King of Kings.
“The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
We need to pursue strength with our spirits, our souls and our bodies! Pursue the heart of our Father with our own.
I am chasing after Him. I need God desperately. Additionally, I’m pushing myself physically this summer because it is all intertwined. We are body, soul and spirit. I’m climbing hills. I’m working out. I’m cleaning up my food act. (Well, I am at least, once again, trying to.) And I’m doing none of it in an effort to become more valuable as a daughter of God or more worthy of his affection. That is not even possible because He has declared that I already am. So are you.
For me, being weak in some areas has meant that I am more vulnerable to shame and when I’m vulnerable to shame, I can too easily succumb to the accusations of the evil one. I can fall down inside. And stay down. And honestly, God is using that too teaching me about the boundless, endless, fathomless, unconditional love of the Father. He is using my weakness to draw me to Him.
Because of Him, today, I’m standing up and saying “No” again to the accusation of the enemy and asking for God’s strength to believe that there is nothing I could possibly do to earn more of his love. I have it. I can rest in it. It is because I am so loved that I am choosing to press on where he would have me go and grow. Or shrink. Or not. Or whatever. I just want HIM. And to be strong in him. Don’t you?
By the end of the summer, I have a personal goal to be strong enough to climb the famous Incline in Colorado Springs no matter how long it takes me. My family wants to do it with me. When we do, I will most likely be the last in our line of hikers but that’s okay. I like the view. Something in my maternal heart rests when I see everyone safe ahead of me. And as I walk up, up, up this summer, I will be praying. With strength. For increasing strength.
Join me! #stronggirl.strongwoman
Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10)
(Also, here’s my theme song for the summer. I am praying it, proclaiming it, dancing to it, driving to it, cleaning toilets to it. You get the idea. Press play and Repeat 1. Soul on Fire – Third Day www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7lv9oMjv_0)
Want information on the Colorado Incline? You’ll find it here!