It's so nice living close to a state park! Saturday's birthday adventure was set to be the Sulphur Springs Trail, one we'd done before, though admittedly it had been a while. The plan was for the dads and boys to hike and for me to have the charcoals white by the time they returned.
Thanks to the baby, we scored the last pavilion in the park: I pulled up about the same time as another party, and they graciously gave us the pavilion because of the baby. One other mom came to help, and my sister graciously picked up the graham crackers I'd forgotten.
We'd planned a simple but special meal: char-grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, Doritos, Cheerwine and Vanilla Coke, and for dessert, s'mores and brownies. (If you've never stuck a brownie in the middle of your s'more with chili dark chocolate and cinnamon graham crackers, it's an experiment I'd be happy to assist you with repeating.)
The guys got back just as I was ready to put the meat on the grill--perfect timing!--so Alan got the honors of grilling, which he loves!
All in all, it was a very good day. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, they had everything they needed along the way, and there was plenty of good food ... and pop.
So afterwards when I asked the birthday boy how he thought the day had gone, I was a bit taken back by his "meh" answer: "It was okay."
Okay!? We put so much into this! OKAY!? It wasn't "SO AWESOME!"? And I started wondering, Was it worth it? Was all that effort worth a "meh, okay"? (Thankfully, I didn't say all of that.)
But Alan read my mental reaction and pulled me aside before I said too much or pressed too hard. "Before you ask more, just let me tell you, he's really tired... It was harder than he thought it was going to be. Just want you to know that before...."
Apparently, there was some confusion about which side of the trail they'd be doing. The hike started out great, I'm told. But they hit the part that makes it the most difficult hike available at Paris Mountain. And my little hobbit, along with his company of dwarves, found themselves in the midst of a bit of an unexpected journey.
Breaks helped, and they did have a good time along the way--good conversation, some good-natured races, etc. I know they had fun. But it wasn't necessarily as exciting as hoped for. There were great parts, yes, but at the moment, the hard parts were overwhelming those.
I was tempted to be discouraged. Having put a lot into planning and pulling this birthday event off, getting a "meh, okay" answer was not at all what I had expected. I knew about the hard parts, knew it would be good for the guys, knew they had what they needed along the way, knew they'd enjoy the food at the end.
And in an instant it hit me. The parallel.
God has planned a journey for me. He knows about the hard parts, doesn't give me more than I can handle with His strength. And it's a good plan, though not always what I expect. He's provided me with everything I'll need along the way--even some chocolate in the mix. There's a promised feast awaiting me that's gonna be way better than a cookout.
But all too often the hard parts along the trail overwhelm, and I forget the good parts--the sweet fellowship, the happy times, the daily load of benefits, the multiplied grace and peace, the victories.
And I couldn't be upset at all with my son.
I could only ask God to forgive me for not being ecstatic about what He's done for me. How thankful am I for the infinite resources He's poured into my life, for the pouring out of his own life's blood for my eternal benefit? for the incredible plan He's come up with? for the awesome promise of a future and a hope?
Those of you who follow my blog or know our family personally know that my husband, Alan, is at the dissertation phase of his seminary training. It's been a journey, to say the least.
But as the choir sang "By Faith" (Getty/Townend;arr. Coleman) last night at church, the Spirit (once again) energized and encouraged my spirit. Tears streamed down my cheeks--tears of confidence and encouragement, of hope and a renewed commitment to believing and continuing.
Alan's dissertation is our mountain right now. And as they sang, I claimed it:
"By faith this mountain shall be moved,
And the pow'r of the gospel shall prevail;
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name."
BY FAITH we will get through this. In keeping with this text, the whole point of Alan's pursuing the PhD is so that he will be more effective in the ministry God's calling him to--the gospel ministry.
So we're calling on His name and believing.
We're rehearsing truth to ourselves.
We're hanging on to hope.
We're drinking coffee and eating trail mix and taking a few breaks along the way.
And we're determining (day by day) to walk by faith.
As we sat there last night, listening, soaking in the song, we gripped each other's hand, gripped so tight. And our hearts rejoiced as we silently affirmed:
"We will stand as children of the promise;
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul's reward;
Till the race is finished and the work is done,
We'll walk by faith and not by sight."
And so we post "THIS MOUNTAIN SHALL BE MOVED!"
We repeat play "By Faith" (performed here by the Galkin Evangelistic Team):
And our hearts are tuned to sing His praise as we press toward the mark and claim this mountain.
By faith, this mountain's ours!