I have been an avid hiker since the age of 19. I love the solitude and the changes in scenery. Over my 20 something years of hiking, I have come to realize that I don’t enjoy walking in the heavy forested paths. My tendency is to charge through that part to get to the mountaintop. I like the high areas, not because I think the scenery is prettier, but because I feel safer when I can see everything. The forests seem dark to me. I can’t see all that is there. It is like the great unknown. For me, a clearer, broader view makes me feel that I am in greater control.

I am pretty sure you can see where I am going with this analogy. We enter through the dark unknown parts of life, and it can be scary. We want to charge through it as quickly as we can, to get to the mountaintop experience where the other side to the circumstance can be clearly seen.

The thing is, we don’t always get to be in charge of how long we are to walk through the low places. We are often forced to walk through the great unknown a lot longer than we would wish for. We ask the age old question, “How long, Lord?”.

Thankfully, our God knows we are made of dust; He created us. He knows our inner workings way better than we know ourselves. Yes, He may require us to walk through the dark, unknown places longer than we wish, but we must remember it is for our good when He requires it. It brings us to a place of vision unlike any we would see up on the mountain. That view is Him and His character. As humans, we can’t help but be in despair when we set our sights on the difficulties. When we can’t see anything but the darkness, what other choice do we have but to look beyond it and cast our eyes on the One who is entirely in control? No only is He in control, but He is the one who loves us the most.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, what started as a place of despair begins to be our jumping off point of hope. Our cry becomes a lyric for a song. Our “if only” turns into “even if”. Our viewpoint shifts from that which is temporal to that which is eternal.

This is one reason that our testimonies are a key component to our journey of faith. They aren’t just for our own faith building, but they are necessary for maintaining a vibrant, faith-filled church. When we share our testimony, we are able to illuminate Christ in the dark moments, enabling others to recognize Him in theirs. It’s part of what keeps the lamp burning in the church, generation after generation. When we listen to others’ stories, we learn to identify Christ in our own dark places as they describe where they found Him in theirs.

Hiking through the forests will never be my favorite. I still prefer the high scenic views. However, I have learned to find joy in the midst, because I have learned to keep an open eye to the aspects of it that I could not otherwise see or experience up on the mountain.  We often find that some of our sweetest moments with Christ are during the dark times.  One reason for this is that walking through the low places is an inevitable part of the journey as a whole. We grow confident in doing so, not so much in ourselves, but in God’s faithfulness. Another huge part of it is the stories of God’s faithfulness in the lives of others who have gone before us helping us find Him in the dark. I pray that wherever you are on this walk, Christ is revealed to you along every step of the way.

 "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" ~ 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

~ Janean 

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