"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 1 Corinthians 5:7
My husband and I celebrated our 26th anniversary at Olema RV Resort and Campground, nestled in the beautiful wilderness surrounded by Point Reyes National Seashore. We brought our bikes and decided to do a 10 mile (5 miles one way) bike and hike. Our path (Bear Valley Trail Head) would lead us to Arch Rock, an overlook point with no beach access.
Bear Valley Trail is described as, "a pleasant stroll through a rich fern grove, mixed Douglas fir forest, and Bear Valley Creek; all sheltered from sun, wind, and coastal fog. It is a beautiful area that is magical if you let your imagination go," (it reminded us of Jurassic Park).
What they don't tell you is that Bear Valley Trail is an upward grade on the way to Arch Rock.
I struggled so much that we had to walk our bikes most of the first 3.5 miles. The next 1.5 miles is where you parked your bike and hiked the rest of the way. The first 3.5 miles is nothing but forest, ferns, and a creek along the path. It's hard to imagine an ocean and cliff could be anywhere nearby. We knew it was there because the map showed the trail and the Pacific Ocean up ahead.
What seemed to be a "bad thing" (struggling uphill), ended up being a blessing in the long run (walk).Because we walked most of the way, we got to enjoy the scenery and spend quality time talking about our lives together. We joked and laughed about how a Velociraptor could be nearby watching us and about to attack. It ended up being a "good" struggle walking our bikes uphill. We grew closer together because of it. Oh, and the bike ride back was a piece of cake...downhill.
Here is the scripture that comes to mind when I think back on this day:
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Hebrews 11:1 TLB
We need our sense of sight or touch to give evidence of the world around us. But there is also a spiritual world. As a Christian, you believe (have faith) first, then you see. What do you see?
You "see" people who once had hardened hearts changed and softened (something only God can do). You "see" people win victories over the lies and deceit of Satan. You "see" the truth in God's Word and the promise that He will never leave you or forsake you. How do you see it? By looking back over your past and seeing where God worked in you and through you (it was mostly during the struggles and trials because you grew closer to God). You see it by the blessings you now have.
You don't know the future, but you know that God has a plan and purpose for you, plans to prosper you. You know this because He promised it in His Word and if you walk with Him long enough you experience it yourself. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, “Faith is trust in the unseen. It is not trust in the unknown, for we may know by faith what we cannot see with the eye.”
I didn't have to see the ocean to believe it was up ahead. Someone made a way for others to get to the end of the journey so they could be blessed. Someone worked hard to open up the five mile path to Arch Rock. No one else will ever have to endure or suffer like they did. I'm sure they had a master plan as they prepared the way. They wanted others to see what they had seen and experience it for themselves. So, they made a way for them to travel easier with a map and a trail to walk on.
Some of the trail is difficult, especially the uphill climb, but it's so worth it in the end. Not just because you made it to the end, but because of the joy you experienced along the way.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. --Psalm 16:11
We need to always remember how much Jesus had to suffer to open up “the path of life” for us. No one else will ever have to endure what He went through. In God's master plan there had to be a perfect sacrifice and so He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. God also provided a "map" (the Bible), which explains His master plan. It's filled with stories that teach and guide us; it's filled with promises and hope to hold on to. Yes, there will be struggles along the way, but we need to remember with each step, Jesus cleared the way before us. The destination is our real home...Heaven.
Also, we need to remember that “joy in your presence” is not just for when we get to heaven. Our salvation is in the present and God is in our presence (now) by prayer, fellowship with other believers and bible study…etc. God’s spirit lives in us and all His attributes. He provides not only JOY but love, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, mercy, self-control (fruits of the Spirit) and so many other attributes and blessings. Our part is faith and obedience.
As I read back on this devotion, the analogy sounds so wimpy when compared to what Jesus did for us. It's just another way I can try to explain the Gospel (good news). The difference between the physical world and spiritual world is: the physical world can be destroyed. There can be an earthquake and Arch Rock could fall into the sea. Bear Valley Trail could crumble, be swallowed up, and fall into Bear Valley creek. We would no longer have access to the ocean. The map they provided would be worthless.
This is not true of the spiritual world. I'll explain with Gods "map"...His Word:
Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As is it written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIm who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.