And Then I Realized…

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Blog by Kristen Hicks

Yesterday, I woke up kinda late, actually. I had stayed out late at church the night before and I had no real plans for Sunday, so I let myself just sleep in a little. When I finally woke up I had a text from my friend Kourtney. It said, “Hey girl, I’m going on an adventure if you wanna come.” That’s it, that’s all she had to say to me. I…WAS…IN!!!!! I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, packed my backpack and headed out.

If adventure was a love language, I’m pretty sure it’s one of mine. Then add some spontaneity to it?!… YES, JESUS… Bring it on!! Kourtney said she wanted to climb a mountain. So we drove up to North Georgia, and hiked up Mount Yonah. Neither one of us had ever hiked there before, so that added to the excitement of it.

It was only about 2.4 miles up, but what I personally had overlooked was that one little word… “UP.”

YA’LL!!!!

I mean we were climbing a “mountain”, “DUH!!! Of course it was UP!!! Come on, Kristen!!!! What were you expecting?!”

But wow!!! You know that moment when your heart starts beating so hard that you can feel in your ears? That was what I felt… the entire way up. It was crazy! I kept thinking that I would hit that point of breakthrough, when it seems like everything in your body regulates and is finally on board with what you are doing and you feel like you could just go on forever and ever, but it never came. (I know, I’m not in the greatest shape, but I also don’t usually feel THAT out of shape.)

However, when we were getting pretty close to the top, I realized something. Jesus was trying to teach me something. Of course! I kept hearing the word “endurance,” (the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.) Then the book of James suddenly comes flooding to my mind:

“Dear brother and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” -James 1:2-4 NLT

The Message puts it like this:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

I really want to share my heart with you guys in this!

So lately, I feel like I really, really want to run! Away, that is (don’t go trying to sign me up for a 5k). I have been experiencing some pretty crazy anxiety lately. There is a restlessness in me that I can’t quite put my finger on. Kinda like I’m climbing a mountain and my heart is beating so hard, I can feel it in my ears.

I know anxiety, is just fear. But I think the scariest thing about having anxiety at times, is not really knowing what the fear is? You just know something is off. You start feeling the need to slow down and take breaks often, because you know if you don’t, it may overtake you. I keep hoping for the breakthrough, and although moments happen that seem like breakthrough, it never actually happens.

James is reminding me that faith is like your heart muscle. When it is pushed, it is shredding the muscle that is there to build it up stronger so that you can endure more. What sticks out about the Message version is when it says, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.” Oh, prematurely, ouch!

“So basically, Lord, you are saying that I can’t run away?! That I can’t just stop here?! I can’t just do something else instead?!”

The moment on the mountain that my heart slowed down was when we finally got to the top. The view was BEAUTIFUL!!! It was quiet, it was peaceful, it was a masterpiece! It was in that moment that we could see the big picture. We could see the parking area, the place we had started. We could see the storms and rain showers in different places all around us. We could see everything it seemed.

It was in that moment that I realized what makes an adventure an adventure. The actual definition of an adventure is this: “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” It’s something that gets you out of your comfort zone, it’s something that pushes you to do or go beyond what you thought you could, it’s something that will make your heart beat hard and fast, it’s something that has some kind of accomplishment or reward in the end, and it’s something that will take your breath away.

I think that’s why James said to consider it a sheer gift of great joy. Because it is a gift and there is joy in it. The breakthrough is joy! And sometimes you have to push yourself to endure and to climb all the way up, with your heart beating loudly in your ears, to finally reach the breakthrough and see the big picture! It is a masterpiece of true beauty as a whole! Not settling for the pretty scenery that was “close enough” to the top! The joy is at the top and it truly is a gift!

So although, I’m still working through anxiety, I will consider this season I am in an adventure with Jesus. Allowing Him to push me, allowing Him to challenge me, allowing Him to shred the muscle of my heart, my faith, and produce a greater endurance within me because as the saying goes….”And then I realized, adventure was the BEST way to learn.”

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