I live less than a mile from Dog River. Do you ever wonder what the people who name things are thinking? Rivers aren’t shaped like dogs. Was there a dog in the river? Given the terrain in this part of the county, it could be that coming up the hills from Dog River make you sweat like a dog, and they make you dog tired.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We are not talking about riding in the Colorado Rockies, but for a 54 year old man the hills around here can be quite the challenge. To give you an idea, I can’t ride four miles from my house without having to make at least four substantial (for a 54 year old) climbs. Usually, my 18 to 20 mile rides come with six or eight challenging segments.

I must admit there have been days since I broke my hip when I wished we lived closer to the Silver Comet Trail (built on a train track bed, it is nice and flat). But, that was then, and this is now. Now, my mind has been changed. God gave me an attitude adjustment about those hills, just the other day.

He said, “The hills are not your enemy.” That’s right; that’s what He said. Here’s the rest:

Though there are times when they feel like my enemy, and there are times when I want to treat them like my enemy (i.e., fight or flight), the truth of the matter is: They just aren’t.

Hills add adventure to my rides; and variety. The Silver Comet Trail has boredom written all over it. Hills challenge me, letting me know how well I am recovering. Hills help me recognize my limitations (yes, I am 54); and they make me stronger. Hills help keep me healthy – burning off what doesn’t belong, and keeping me off medication to control this or that.

Of course, God didn’t give me this attitude adjustment for my health. There are some great spiritual lessons to be learned. Hills are like tribulations, and tribulations can be our friend.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Most people – and a lot of Christians – see tribulation as an enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Would our enemies cause us to persevere, grow in character and become more hopeful? As we see in Acts 14:22, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” The hills in our lives are actually gateways into the kingdom! Wow!!

Knowing this, we can now face our hills (on the bike and in life) with an encouragement that it means us no harm. God has placed it there for our good. The tribulations become bearable… no, more than bearable, they become our friends. And no matter how big they are, they no longer hide our true enemies.

You see, once we are no longer deceived about the tribulations, we begin to notice our real enemies; fear and discouragement being the primaries. Fear is quickly dealt with by exposing the lie behind it

(e.g., failure is imminent; you don’t have it in you.) That lie is replaced by the truth that we have made it up this hill (or a similar one) before, and we don’t have to “have it in you” because God will see me through. Knowing that God is our strength encourages us over the top; and prepares us for the next hill.

So, the next time you face a tribulation – even an adventure that promises many hills – remember that God has put them there to make you stronger, in Jesus Christ. It is preparation for the exceedingly abundant life He has for you throughout eternity. Remember that He will be your strength; and He will use those hills to give you hope.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

 

God bless you in your hilly adventures.

Your servant and His forever,