I spend a fair amount of time outdoors. Recently I was climbing on Mount Erie near Anacortes. As my partners and I neared the top, I looked up and there, not 50 feet above us, was a bald eagle flying past. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. A few minutes later I found myself struggling through the hardest piece of climbing I had ever attempted. I fell multiple times and found myself doubting whether or not I could make it to the top. When I finally made it I was exhausted but feeling the rush of accomplishment.
Later, driving home in the van, Isaiah 40 popped into my head. It is a familiar passage to many of us. Verses 30-31 read:
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
At first glance this might seem like it was an inspirational moment. But in reality it was more of a rebuke from the Holy Spirit.
While I was in the midst of that challenge on the rock, my thoughts were not about God. They were not about the beauty that surrounded me. My thoughts were about whether or not I had the strength or the ability to complete the task before me. When it was over the exhilaration was over what I had managed to accomplish. Yet in that van, the Spirit was speaking to me about who made any of it possible.
God is the one who made me. He is the one who gave me the drive and the skill to be climbing on that mountain. And the Spirit showed me that my frustrations and doubts were rooted in my reliance on myself in that moment.
The reality is that I can point to numerous experiences over the years where I reached points of frustration, bitterness, even burnout. And every time was rooted in me relying on my own strength to accomplish my goals. But when I truly look to God for his strength and power, regardless of the circumstances, I have found rest and peace.
We simply are not made to live this life on our own. This life is hard and things do not always go the way we would hope. And in the midst of all of this God is at work. We can trust Him. We can find His strength as we learn to boast in our weakness. We can accomplish the impossible because it is possible for Him. Ultimately, I am able to accomplish the things I do, not from trying harder, but from accepting who God has made me to be and finding power in embracing His life over my own.