“Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet and He healed them.” (Matthew 15:29-30 NKJV)
I was reading this passage recently and was reminded of a hike I experienced with Young Life in Colorado. It was a difficult climb, but so worth it when we reached the spectacular view waiting at the top. I remember feeling like I had accomplished something huge when we walked back down the mountain that day. The next time I hiked that mountain, I was a leader entrusted with a group of high school girls. We stuck together and encouraged each other along the way. When the top of the mountain was just a few feet away, a hail storm hit. We were all instructed to turn around and head down quickly. The view was missed that day, but the experience was lasting. Having people alongside to encourage was a glimpse of what lay ahead.
Just now, as I sat down to write, a sweet 5 year old came crying to me. She climbed into my lap because a thorn had stuck in her foot. I held her and then removed the tiny, piercing object and smiled. She is one of the ones I get to walk alongside and encourage everyday. She is one of the ones I get to take to the feet of Jesus and introduce to love itself. What an incredible privilege! This hike of life is better and harder than I ever imagined.
You may or may not have children at home, but you do have people around you that need to be brought to the feet of Jesus. When I think back to that Colorado climb, I cannot imagine carrying someone up that mountain. However, if I knew that Jesus was at the top and the healing that awaited like what happened in the scriptures, that would have made all the difference. I would not have hesitated to help anyone in need. The hike might have gone a bit slower, but what a reward to see someone healed! Have things really changed all that much? For me, my Young Life days are over, but my hiking days are far from finished. My children and anyone else the Lord puts beside me need an encourager, leader, helper, listener and carrier at times. I pray the Lord will use me.
Often, I think that the hard things we have gone though in life can be such a witness to others on the other side of hard. We just need to have eyes to see. Or it may not be hard things, but maybe someone who is blind to their sin. Come along side them, not in judgement, but with truth and take them to the feet of Jesus. It might be someone has been maimed by another persons sin or they are the one doing the wounding. Who of us hasn’t been on either side of this one? Show them the way of repentance and forgiveness that is found at the feet of Jesus. The hike is not always easy, but the mountain top experience is worth it. You might get hailed on in every since of the word and have to rush back to the bottom, but that too will pass and you begin again.
I have found that scripture is full of encouragement, answers, help, boundaries and love. It has to be because it is the very Word of God. Before I begin my day, I take a lot of time to read these words. This is life to me and gives me the encouragement, stamina and love possible for the day. Somedays seem like I am walking on level, peaceful ground. Our beach vacation felt much like that. This past week of Kids Kamp, which brought a tremendous amount of healing, felt a bit rocky at times. It was because of the overflow from my mornings that my feet were sure all week long, regardless of the terrain. You are offered the same thing by opening your Bible.
Everyday we are given opportunities to come alongside people on their hike of life. It might be for just a few minutes or it might be a lifetime. Just the other day, I finished up a few minutes early and stood in the spot where one of my boys would be arriving to be picked up. A precious stranger was picking up one of her grandkids and we struck up a conversation. I did not say much because she was determined to speak words of incredible encouragement over me. Even as we parted, she was throwing kind words over her shoulder. What an unexpected gift in the middle of my week. Only God can time things like that. A fellow hiker took time for me and then carried on with her day. Amazing!
So tomorrow as you go about your day, be mindful of those around you. Look into their eyes and really see them. Do not be in such a hurry that you miss your fellow hikers. We could be the one bringing someone to the feet of Jesus. We could be the stranger speaking a word of encouragement. We could be the one telling the Truth to someone who has never heard it before and is blinded by the version of truth ever changing in our world today. God could use us to take someone who has been maimed by one hurt after another to the only place wholeness is found, Jesus. And you know what can happen? Keep reading with me, “So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:31). God will be glorified! Now that is better than any view of His creation.
See you on the trail!