2 Timothy 3:1-17, Exodus 7:8-13, John 15:18-21
Not long after my wife and I moved to Colorado, we became increasingly excited about exploring the foothills and peaks along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. One particular Saturday morning, we set out on a hike that had been recommend to us by a few trusted friends. Since they were Colorado natives and more adventurous than most, we naturally trusted their suggestion and set out for what we hoped would be a memorable afternoon.
The hike started out pleasant enough, meandering paths through a wooded glade. Over time the trail began to slowly rise toward the summit. Pointing out gnarled trees and curiously spotted birds to one another, we hardly noticed the change in the slope. We laughed and lingered as we pleased. Several miles later, though, we questioned just how far we actually were from the peak.
We began to wonder, “Are we there yet?”
The gentle pitch had turned into an aggressive incline. The gnarled trees had become logs crossing and blocking our footpath. The soft breeze had become an unnaturally chilly wind. Our legs were tiring, and our spirits weren’t quite as chipper as when we’d set out.
Before either of us spoke it, we both were thinking it: “Maybe we should head back?”
We stopped to consider our options. Then we began to head back down, slowly weaving our way through the boulders and rocky outcroppings.
A stranger passed by, heading uphill. “How was the view today?”
“Oh,” I muttered, “we didn’t quite make it. Maybe next time.”
“Are you serious?! You’re less than 500 yards from the top!”
This is precisely Paul’s spiritual concern for Timothy in our reading today, and it is still a spiritual concern for each us: that we would give up before we’ve completed the journey and falter before the finish. Paul cautions, “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed” (1 Timothy 3:14).
Continue. Sometimes that’s all we can do. It may not feel all that glamorous or exciting, but the call is to continue—not for the joy of each step, but for the wonder of what lies beyond.
Thanks to our encounter with that seasoned hiker, we turned back uphill. We continued. We completed the summit, and the views were more than worth the effort. Filled with awe and wonder, my wife and I rested in a moment of indescribable fulfillment.
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we live a life and walk a journey characterized by grace and redemption. However, this does not mean the way is smooth or the journey is easy. We need only look at the life of Jesus to know this is true. The Christian life will ebb and flow through different seasons. Sometimes the way is easy and the burden feels light; others times the way is steep and perhaps overwhelming.
If you’ve come to know Jesus, then I pray that Paul’s challenge and encouragement sticks with you this week. Continue on. Continue on in what you know to be true. Continue on in who you know you were made to be. Continue on in the belief that the summit is closer than you think.
If your heart is heavy, if your feet are weary, if your back is sore, if you can’t go one step more, I pray a one-word prayer for you today: continue.
Written by Andrew Stoddard