Sometimes, my wife and I leisurely walk in our neighborhood. Our typical route is basically a loop through the streets around our house. We live in an area with many hills, so our route is far from flat. In fact, we are almost always going either uphill or downhill as we walk.
I know it is impossible, but the journey always seems to have twice as much uphill as downhill. When I first had this thought, I decided to walk the route in reverse. This did not help at all, as it still seemed far more of an uphill climb than a downhill trek. I know logically it can’t be uphill both ways, so I guess it just seems that way because I am working twice as hard to go uphill, and the uphill sections take longer to navigate.
UPHILL VS. DOWNHILL
Going uphill is hard, and we tend to complain about the climbs. We give twice the effort and energy to go half the speed. We begin to sweat, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes labored, and the muscles in our legs begin to tire and maybe even cramp. We have to force ourselves to keep going if the climb is steep or long. An uphill climb is tough.
Downhill is different. We enjoy going downhill. The journey is easy, sometimes even exhilarating. We just move easily along the path, exerting very little energy or effort, moving freely, and covering territory at a good pace. We aren’t breathing hard, we aren’t sweating, our legs aren’t getting sore, and our heart rate isn’t increasing.
Our natural inclination is to always seek the downhill path.
If we do that, however, we will be hurting ourselves in the long run. The downhill path is actually hard on our joints. Our ankles and knees absorb a greater shock as we go downhill because our legs basically stop us from falling forward on every step. This wear and tear on our joints will eventually take a toll.
Going uphill, though more difficult, is actually good for us. Our joints are not adversely impacted, and our muscles are made stronger through their exertion. Our cardio fitness is improved as we sustain an increased heart rate for a period of time, our lungs open up as we breathe more deeply, and our overall fitness level is increased. In short, we actually become healthier and stronger because of the uphill climb.
As true as this is physically, the truth of the uphill climb is even more true spiritually. We love the times of comfort and ease, but they do not necessarily help us. In fact, they may lull us to sleep spiritually and make us more vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. Long periods of an easy downhill stroll may make us less dependent, less desperate, and less aware of God and our need for Him. We become more at ease in our own aptitude and abilities.
Our spiritual muscles get stretched and strengthened by the uphill climbs. Those times of uncertainty and difficulty are the times in which we are made stronger and more spiritually “fit.” Truly, “the testing of our faith produces endurance,” and “tribulation brings about perseverance,” and “when we are weak, we are strong” because “God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”
Don’t always seek the path of least resistance.
The downhill run is not always what is best for us. Don’t get caught up in seeking only the outward blessings of God. The uphill climb in which we struggle to navigate difficult circumstances will produce “an eternal weight of glory.” There will be a spiritual fitness and strength that will come through the times in which we must depend on Christ to make it through the journey. The depths of the blessings that come from the uphill climb are far more important and far more precious.