Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dreading the Journey

I never look forward to walking the dog. Each morning, as my alarm goes off, Sasha paws eagerly at my bedroom door, anxious for our daily constitutional to begin. She whimpers impatiently as I sleepily pull on my sneakers and socks, beside herself that we haven’t left yet. I sigh as we go through the front door into the great outdoors. Our round trip is a little over a mile, which takes us approximately thirty minutes. Weather conditions can be uncomfortable-- early in the mornings, the winter air is still bitingly cold and conversely the summer air too warm and humid. Sometimes my hip hurts as we walk. Leg muscles protest as I struggle up the hills. We often encounter other dogs, and Sasha barks vigorously, almost pulling me off my feet in her excitement as we pass them by. I am always happy to round the last bend and see my house and driveway, knowing the effort is at an end.

Yet despite my dread, I know the walk is so good for me. My doctor called to report my cholesterol is down along with my blood pressure (she specifically requested I pat the dog on the head for her). My muscles are stronger and I have better physical endurance than I have had in a long while. It is good for me psychologically as well. Spending a half-hour in the sunshine boosts my morale. I have met many neighbors in the community I would never otherwise have met while walking. The splendor of nature and the gradual change of seasons always lifts my spirits. Every day I appreciate more and more the beautiful surroundings in which we live. The benefits of the effort are many.

Even knowing this, getting up and out the door never gets easier. Given the choice on any morning, I would rather roll over, snuggle under the covers, and go back to sleep. Or maybe get a nice hot cup of coffee and slowly wake up as I sip, wrapped in a bathrobe. Looking ahead, my early morning walk is never positively anticipated.

Yet once it is accomplished, I am never sorry I did it.

I am looking ahead to possibly another kind of dreaded journey. After two mammograms, I went today for a biopsy on a suspicious area they have found. The uncertainty of the situation is a bit scary. If it is cancer (I hate to even type that word), trying times lie ahead. No one would choose such a path. Yet there are benefits to even that kind of journey.

Hard circumstances are frequently not all bad, but mostly just hard. The metaphors that we use to describe God at work in us are largely painful in character: the hot flames of a refiner’s fire, chipping off the rough edges to reveal the beauty of a diamond within, or the dying of the old man being replaced by a new creation. All these processes bring pain to the one being transformed. But always the outcome is worth the struggle.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, 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.” Light and momentary troubles? Several times Paul was beaten to within an inch of his life and left for dead! He had been imprisoned, thrown out of synagogues, and rejected by his own kinsmen. My guess is that he classified his suffering as light and momentary only in comparison to the resulting glory they would accomplish in him. The glory that was being produced was eternal in nature. Worth the fleeting and momentary price, to be sure.

I’ll let you know the outcome of my little circumstance. One thing is for certain--the destination is worth the journey, even when traveling a rocky, pothole filled road. We might not choose pain, but even as we begin to place one foot in front of the other, we can know we will not be sorry when the trip has reached its conclusion. Our God is faithful and will not waste one minute of our pain. He will reap the benefits for us and will remain by our side in the struggle.

“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in our mortal flesh… Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:11, 16

Update: Wonderful news on the biopsy-- no cancer was found!! I am thankful-- but not just for a good report, however relieving that it was. More, I am thankful that the Lord gave me peace throughout the few days we had to wonder about what the future held. Our confidence is not in the circumstance or in how we hope God will act. Our confidence is in the character of God, knowing He could not BE anything but good. No matter what the circumstance.


Zoe Elmore said...

Know I'm praying for you as you face this uncertainty.
I have been there myself and experienced God's very presence with me.

Thanks for the weather report, Kelsey's mom has gone over the deep end worrying about the weather, her dress,the tent,the reception, the food, the family... Okay she's worried about everything.
Our prayer is for Kelsey's adoptive parents to come to know the Lord as a result of this holy union.

Van said...

whew - was worried there for a moment. I walk my dog too - but in the evening 'cuz I love my slow morning coffee. AM outing is a quicky.

Zoe said...

Congrats on your upcoming wedding. You are so right about pictures being a motivation. They do last forever!
The reception was in big white tents on the church grounds there in Columbia.
Two words of warning...
Don't ever stay in the Extended Stay Deluxe Hotel in Columbia (it should be closed down) and put someone in charge of the bridal bouquet.

Laura said...

Hallelujah! I'm so thankful for your good news, Julie! And--good for you! Starting these healthy habits is a wonderful practice to get into. I'm trying to do a little better too. Let's encourage each other!

Go girl!