Contagious courage

While we were in British Columbia this summer, my 10-year-old son and I hiked the Abby Grind. The trail begins a mile from my parents’ house at the base of Sumas Mountain and climbs 1,200 feet in just over a mile, making for some good exercise. It didn’t take long before we started huffing! Near the three-quarter mark, we were both tempted to just turn around, but then we knew we’d miss out on theAbby Grind lookout spectacular view at the lookout. So we encouraged each other on and both made it to the top.

On the one hand, we both needed to hike the trail ourselves. We propelled ourselves onward with our own legs, muscles, and willpower. But on the other hand, we needed each other’s encouragement to keep going, to cheer each other on. We were also encouraged by other hikers coming down the trail reminding us that the effort was worth it.

With satisfied smiles, we scrambled up around the last corner and saw the Fraser Valley spread out below us and Washington State beyond. If it had been a bit clearer, we might even have seen the ocean. A little later as we descended back down the trail, we encouraged other hikers making their way up.

Life sometimes feels like a serious hike in which we often deal with aches and pain. Sometimes we feel alone with our doubts and fears and secret desire to drop out. One of the reasons I think God places us in a Christian community is so that we can cheer one another on. Author Lewis Smedes once observed that “nobody else can have courage for us. But behind individual acts of courage there is usually a community. Courage is contagious. It spreads when we get close to each other.”

I see a church community as a place to experience the contagiousness of courage. Surrounded by fellow hikers on the path, we hear and see people cheering us on while we in turn do the same for others. Sometimes I’m the one reminding you that the effort of being a loyal spouse, a dependable parent, or a hard worker is worth it; sometimes you’re the one encouraging me.

This goes for faith as well: Sometimes I encourage you in your walk with Jesus and sometimes it’s me who needs your encouragement. Are you part of a community where you encourage others and other encourage you? Consider joining a church gathering this Sunday.

Yes, it’s possible that I could’ve conquered the Abby Grind on my own. But hiking it together with someone was not only more fun but also boosted the courage in both of us.

I suspect there’s someone with whom you’re hiking through life who could use a boost from you today.

I wrote this for the Rock Valley Bee a couple weeks ago
but kept forgetting to post it here!



Joy in trials

I feel that people just getting to know Jesus or people desiring to be baptized or give their testimony for the first time ought to be warned: Friendship with Jesus, while extraordinary, is not easy.  Whether Christians face more trials than people who do not follow Jesus, I dare not say; however, it should be said that enduring tough times come with the package of being a disciple of Jesus.  The fact is: Satan is not very pleased with my decision to walk with Jesus, and he’ll find both blatant and subversive ways to distract me from my faith.

Biblical author James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  Notice he does not say, “Consider it pure joy if you face trials…”  As brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s a matter of when – not if – we’ll experience tough times.

Some people leave it at that.  Expect trials.  Period.  Deal with it.

But instead of a period, may I suggest a semi-colon?

The apostle Paul recognized that the church in Thessalonica was going through a tough time, so he sent his co-worker Timothy to them “to strengthen and encourage [them] in [their] faith.”  Note how Paul says this within a breath of acknowledging that we are indeed destined for trials.  Yes, trials will come; but I believe so will strength and encouragement.  This strength and encouragement may come from the words and actions of a Godly person like Timothy or perhaps simply knowing deep inside that God is right there in the trial with me and you.

Now don’t say you weren’t warned…  And given a promise.