Standing at the bottom of a beast, already out of breath and fatigued, I wonder why I choose to do this. As I wait for my heart to stop pounding, I stare at the top of the hill, which seems almost insurmountable as I watch my clock tick down the last few seconds of my recovery.
And then I do it again.
Sprinting, charging up that hill like I’m a part of the Light Brigade and pressing half a league, half a league onward.
The hill is a monster. The hill is a challenge. The hill is my personal demon and my wet stone, sharpening steel.
I love hills. And I hate hills.
Nothing can compare to that exquisite burn in the legs and the fire in the lungs. I set my jaw and make my legs move even faster, though I feel as if I’m standing still. Hills have the power to slow even the most forceful foes.
But I can’t and won’t stop until I’ve reached the top, until I’ve conquered that hill. Because I refuse to let this monster defeat me.
So much of what we face day in and day out can feel like a monstrous hill. A job loss, a death of a loved one, a sick child, a battle with depression can tower threateningly above us like a monstrous hill that we have to climb. And we know it’s going to hurt.
Because running hills really, really hurts.
Whatever our hill in life it, we are determined to defeat it. We set our jaws and start running, feeling strong and limitless: I will conquer this hill. Soon our breath begins to quicken. Our lungs gasp for air and our legs weigh us down. As we gaze at the top, so far away, we steadily slow until it seems we’re not moving at all. Everything hurts.
Those climbs that we have to make burn deep inside. That pain and stress and fatigue of caring for your sick and aging parent, or facing an uncertain future with no job and no money, or losing your temper and hearing yourself scream at your child wears you down until you want to sit on the side of the road, bury you face in your arms, and weep at the sheer weight of it.
How can I possibly climb this hill? I’m exhausted. My legs are burning, my lungs feel like they’re going to burst, and I can’t breath. This hill is too big, the job too great, and I’m far too weak and out of shape for this.
And our Heavenly Father gently grabs our arms, pulls us off that road, and gives us a small shove up the hill. Because, while we may not understand the purpose of our hill, he does. And it’s not accident that we have been given a particular hill to conquer.
The secret of running hills, and why I like them so much, is that they make me a stronger runner. I can run faster, harder, and longer by training my body to run hills. That unbearable pain of running that hill molds a new runner, one who is stronger and tougher.
Our hills in life do the same thing. It hurts. A lot. And in the middle of it, seems completely fruitless.
But Christ uses these hills to make us stronger. To carve us in the people he wants us to be. To draw us closer to him. To help us understand that trying to run these insurmountable hills by ourselves is impossible. To mold and shape our faith into steel – unbreakable.
As we run each hill, whatever our hill may be, and the pain seems impossible to bear, we sometimes forget that we are not alone.
Because we have a running buddy along side of us, and his strength and stamina is limitless. In fact, he’s the one who cheers us on, who keeps us going. He’s the one who will pick us up when we fall from utter exhaustion and sob under the pain. Your Savior is running the hill with you, and he will never abandon you.
So run those hills. Through Christ, we are able to conquer these monsters, these demons that are our hills. And while the hills may seem unending, Christ’s love and stamina never are.
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