We took all the munchkins to a waterfall a short while ago to celebrate my birthday. It was a gorgeous place on a beautiful day, which explains why it was totally packed with people.
The cool thing about these falls is that while they look turbulent, you can still swim in them, and climb the rocks in some sort of relative safety, providing you are a good swimmer and over 90 pounds.
My youngest is neither. But she didn’t care.
Tempted, oh so tempted by the draw of the water, she repeatedly pointed out that “those kids” were swimming. “Those kids” were high school students in their bathing suits. Still, I let her take off her shoes and explore the shallows, occasionally reminding her to step away from the edge of the rocks.
Eventually, I gave in too. I took off my shoes and we traversed the wide rocks worn smooth by the years of rushing water. Unsatisfied, she pleaded to climb to the higher level of the waterfall. I acquiesced and there we were, she and I following my older two girls as we climbed the slippery rocks.
The next level revealed waters above us gliding smoothly over a bed of smaller rocks. I wish I could say I did the same. Uh no.
To all you people who own water shoes: I get it now.
With each step the stones jabbed carefully into my soles, and I only imagine it was exacerbated because of the arthritis in my feet and ankles.
I was careful, deliberate. My kiddos practically skipped over the shards of rocks, their feet toughened by summer and their body weight considerably less than mine.
It’s not so different in my everyday life. There are so many days where I feel like all I’m trying to do is get from point a to point b, but I have all these rocks in the way. The path is painful. Each rock is another opinion that conflicts with my own, another news story highlighting the evil of mankind, another painful reminder that I am falling short of my someone’s standards, let alone my own. And I think, “I’m just trying to get somewhere. Why is everything so difficult?”
I think there might be some misconception that being a Christian is like putting on water shoes. Like we can walk happily and unscathed over life’s difficulties and smile cheerfully at those struggling beside us. “You should get yourself a pair of these babies,” we chirp, then hold up one leg to show off our aquatic duds and frolic away.
But I don’t think Christianity is like that. From my experience, and from the experience of those I know or have read about, life is still incredibly painful for believers. The goal was never to put on water shoes and prance through life.
What Christianity offers is way better. It offers a destination. You could put on water shoes and splash around all day, but if you don’t know where you are going, what’s the point?
With a destination we can accept the stones, even be thankful for them, because we know that with every step we are closer to our home. We can sidle up to our suffering neighbors and say, “You are in pain? Me too,” and care for their aching feet. After all, the Living Water is already streaming there in abundance. We can praise God for His respites along the way, take in the sights. Worry less about why there is pain, and concentrate on the One who took every step for us, who takes every step with us.
We can take those moments of rest, those times when the steps are easier, and praise God for those too.
In a world broken by sin, in lives cracked and chipped, it is no wonder the path rough..
I wish I could promise a smooth road for those who follow Christ, but as long as we live here we will have troubles, and praise God for that because it is only through those troubles that my heart becomes soft enough to rely on Him. My delusions of control and holiness are only shattered by the piercing of flesh- His. Then mine.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7
If the Bible has taught me anything, it is that those beautiful feet aren’t pumiced, moisturized, or pedicured feet. They are calloused, bruised, scarred feet of a servant.
They aren’t flawless like our world’s beauty demands. They are made beautiful by a God who takes every stone in our life, every injury, and bathes it in the beauty of His love and purpose. They are beautiful to the suffering souls we meet who see our scars and know that we have been there too, and our God reigns.
How is your path feeling right now? What does is mean to know that in spite of our subjective feelings, God promises to be there and use every pain for a purpose?
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.