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I have a nephew who was diagnosed with scoliosis when in high school. In order to counteract the effects of the spinal curvature, he began learning to how to strengthen his core and maintain his flexibility. In the last few years he started rock climbing. Sometimes he free climbs, other times bouldering. With each obstacle he confronts, he must grip rough surfaces, cling to small ledges, trusting in the safety belay around his waste while keeping his focus upward.

Rock climbing tests the climbers agility, balance, endurance, strength and flexibility. It is a dangerous sport, especially bouldering, requiring the climber to tightly grasp the surface with his fingers and toes while strategically maneuvering over craggy obstacles. The physical cost is cut finger tips, bruised knees and achy muscles, while risking life and limb. The motivation and reward for a climber's effort is the view at the mountain top few are fortunate to realize.

How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:19b-21 NIV

We will all go through tough times, adversity, struggles, steep mountains and treacherous valleys, twisting paths or bumpy roads. Impediments presented in life are opportunities for personal growth, to build a depth of character with courage to overcome challenges that try stop us or push us down. My nephew grew-up in a home filled with strife. He could have chosen to wallow in self-pity, make similar poor choices and perpetuate dependencies. In contrast, he chose a harder route; he escaped from the road his home life had prepared for him in order to seek a future with a better view. We are so very proud of him for choosing to a better life, making the hard choices and decisions that will bring a better result.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:2-3 NIV

Genesis describes the life of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob who endured hardships before leading Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, saving his family and the lives of many others. The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles describe the accomplishments of David, eighth son of Jesse, who would defeat the giant, assume the throne and turn the nation of Israel back to the Lord. Both men, and others, were able to accomplish amazing tasks, because they had overcome adversity during their youth. David saved the family sheep from lions and bears as a young boy, so what was Goliath to him? Joseph had been thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, suffered in prison, observing God's faithfulness when he was hungry and suffering.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done. Psalm 9:9-11 NIV

Each person has free-will to choose the path for their life. Some will choose to sit at the bottom of the mountain and settle for the valley view. Others will try to find their own way around the butte or accept a slight incline up a neighboring hill. Only a few, the courageous, will accept the challenge to ascend the steep escarpment. It's often a solo-climb, depending only on the Mighty Lord God, Yehovah, to show him where to place his foot and what stone to grasp hold. For those who endure, and do not give up, they will see the majesty of His face.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at His sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Psalm 27:4-8 NIV

It is these courageous few, who choose to follow where the Savior leads, and even fewer who have the endurance to reach the spectacular pinacle for a reward greater than could ever be imagined. Trusting in the One who knows the best place to put each foot, so we may overcome the boulders before us, enables us to obtain the prize set before us.

Father God, I choose this day to follow You up rocky crags instead of easy paths which I could accomplish on my own strength. I choose to trust You, Adonai, to lead me up Your Holy Mountain, so I may speak with You face to face, as You spoke to Moses, as a friend. I will receive Your law in my heart and trust Your Word to show me where to place my foot and to which rock to safely grasp. Reveal Yourself to me, secure me to You, my Savior, with cords of kindness and love. May I continue to crawl toward the reward that is waiting for me, to live in Your Presence. Please strengthen me as I trust Your faithfulness with each step that I may sing praises to Your Name all the days of my life. Amen.

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