Going through a hard time is like walking upstream in water that is chest level. Sometimes I lose my footing and I slip and go all the way under, the cold water a slap to my face.  It would be so much easier to turn around and walk downstream, where the water will carry me along and I won’t have to work so hard.  I can see from here that it widens downstream and there are many there.

But this is where God called me. Upstream.

I’m learning it’s not always going to be easy going this way. It would be much easier to go with the crowd, to follow everyone else.  It would be so much easier to splash around in the shallow water, to stretch out in all that space and do whatever I wanted, to get out when I’m tired or uncomfortable.  But again, God didn’t call me to a life of ease or downstream where it’s wide open.  And He didn’t call me to follow people.  He called me to follow His Son.  And I know Jesus suffered.

So why am I surprised when life hurts? Why do I get discouraged when I know I’m going in the right direction?

Because there is a thief in the water. Satan is trying so hard to trip me right now and steal my progress.  And when I stubbornly refuse to turn and go back, he whispers all sorts of lies to slow my trek.  He tries to tell me going upstream is a waste of time, that I’ll never make it.  He even tries to tell me the water is way too deep up ahead and I’m not strong enough to handle it.

But I know he’s a liar.  So I plant my foot in the gravel and sand underneath and I press on. I press on because I know at just the right moment, just when I feel I can’t go on and that discouragement is about to swallow me and pull me under, that the God who made a way through the Red Sea will surely make a way for me here in this stream.

As I look around in this stream I realize I’m not alone. Press on, my friend!  Blessings are up ahead, purpose, and glory to God! Let our sorrows and cries merge and burst forth as a battle cry, echoing across the land as we push through the water together.  We will not be moved!  I will hold your hand if you slip, and please, oh please hold mine when I do.  We have much ground to cover and the only waste of time is listening to the enemy’s lies.  His words are slippery; let them slide off and into the water.  Then stomp him into the muck and leave him behind.

As we push forward together, let us watch as the mighty hand that comes to part the stream also gently reaches out to wipe the tears from our eyes and the sweat from our brows as He welcomes us home; a home away from all the struggles, away from physical pain and emotional agony. A home for those who follow Christ on this narrow road, this journey upstream.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT.)