Monday, October 18, 2010

Ridiculous Inclines

The hill was steep. My bike was pointed up the path, but I wasn't convinced I'd be able to make it to the top. I was tempted to backtrack and get to our destination via an easier route. Avoiding the ridiculous incline altogether. But with my husband, Steve's, encouragement, we slowly but surely biked up the path that led to the horticultural center. It was worth the effort.

I love Callaway Gardens. Situated on 13,000 acres, this resort complex boasts beautiful foliage and wonderful paths to explore whether on foot or bicycle. The Gardens are special to me. Steve and I celebrated an anniversary here. We brought our daughter and some of her friends here to celebrate a birthday. When family has visited, we've brought them to Callaway to enjoy the idyllic setting. Without exception, we've found it well worth the two-hour drive.

Life is full of challenges. Steep hills often loom in the distance, tempting me to look for a route of less resistance. As a writer, I sometimes get overwhelmed with the realization that writing a book isn't easy. Researching and writing takes time. What will set my work apart from the scores of other writers intent on publication? The hill seems to get steeper.

I'm reminded of the children of Israel, poised to enter the Promised Land. The Lord had faithfully guided their steps with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He was with them each step of the way. Although there were giants in the land of Canaan, the Lord had given them a promise, "Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them, " (Deuteronomy 1:8; KJV). There was work to be done, but the Lord had given them the land. He would fight for them if they would step forward in obedience.

Focusing on the giants, and their own meager strength, the children of Israel chose to give in to their fears rather than trust their mighty God. A big mistake. That generation ended up wandering in the desert for forty long years and being denied entry into the Promised Land.

I have a choice to make as well. The Lord has guided me along this path of writing and is giving me glimpses of the journey ahead. I know it won't be easy, and many steep hills remain for me to climb. If I only focus on my fears and the things I can accomplish in my own strength, I'll be making a colossal mistake. The Lord intends for me to rely on Him, draw on His strength, and continue to work toward the goal He's placed before me. Inevitably, I'll still face the steep hills, but by trusting His plan for my life, I'll continue on to the top. No matter how ridiculous the inclines, I'm convinced that when I look back on my writers' journey, I'll know it was well worth the effort!

What 'steep hills' are you facing today? Are you relying on your own strength to make it to the top? Are you trusting God to make it to your 'Promised Land'?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for this life You've given me. I praise You for guiding me each step of the way. Forgive me for failing to follow You when the road gets difficult. Help me to reach my full potential by staying focused on You, and the task You've placed before me. Thank You for the encouragement found in Your Word. In Jesus' name, Amen.


  1. Oh Maria,
    I am always so refreshed when I come here. I mean that truly. You made me realize I didn't pray formy writing today--just attacked it on my own strength. Off to pray now.

  2. Terri - Thanks for your honesty, my friend! I know what you mean, these lessons always get me first! Have a wonderful day and I'm looking forward to reading what the Lord gave you! Hugs and blessings! :)

  3. You have reminded me to trust Jesus for guidance and help, in every moment of my day, and in my writing. Sometimes there are dry spells, and then I receive a yes from a magazine editor, and sometimes a check in the mail which energizes me again.

  4. It is not so much our destination... but what we learn during the journey to get there!

  5. Thanks Maria. How often do you remind me that I CAN'T MAKE IT ON MY. OWN. STRENGTH? Well, you've done it again. I have been praying about my writing, here and there. But I know I need to be consistent. Every day in my time with THE MAKER, I need to ask for his help.

    Thank you dear friend. And dear you are. BTW, Callaway Gardens sound extraordinary. Maybe someday I can visit there.

  6. I'm just like you Maria... tempted to look for the easier route than the hard climb to where God is leading. Thank you for the encouragement. I'm about to start my writing day (you're probably getting ready for bed) and in many ways it is a mountain I want to run from today. But, empowered by your example and whispers of courage, I carry on. Just like Terri, I have been refreshed.
    Mountain, with God's help, here I come!!
    Much love to you
    Dotti XX

  7. Sometimes I want to run from the challenges, but pressing on and through is the way to go!

  8. Beautiful devotion Maria. Every day I am realizing that I have nothing to give unless I get from Him first.

    Have a blessed day!!


  9. Thank you for the reminder!! Blessings to you, Maria.

  10. What a great way to start my morning with your devotional thoughts. This sure can apply to anyone's life. Thanks for writing it. Oh, and glad you made it to the top! :)

  11. This is a great reminder, Maria! Thanks!

  12. I love how active your family is. The gardens sound beautiful.

    Your message resonates with me today. Thank you.

  13. Hi Maria -

    I needed to read this today. Thanks.

    Susan :)

  14. Maria-Lovely post and needing this today. I'm feeling like the cloud and pillar of fire are blinded by my shadows of doubts currently. My obstacles seem too towering to figure out a way through or to climb over. Like your prayer says, concentrating on the encouragement found in His Word is where the path is shown. I shall be praying this daily today.

  15. Terra - It's so easy to get caught up in completing the 'assignment' rather than praying for that guidance and direction! Publication and checks CAN be pretty motivating for us writers! Knowing that we're doing exactly what the Lord's called us to do -even more motivating! God bless!

    *I tried the bok choy prepared as you had recommended. Very yummy! I'll be making it again soon!

    Marja - Great point! I seem to have to remind myself of that fact pretty often! Have a blessed week, my friend! :)

    Robyn - I guess this is an area that I struggle with. As a writer, it's so easy to get discouraged when you don't see immediate results. I think the Lord is perfecting patience in me!

    If you get to GA, please give me a yell! I'd love to take you and your family to Callaway! It'd be great to meet you, girlfriend! :)

  16. Dottie - Praying your writer's mountain was scaled successfully! Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement. Looking forward to hearing good news about agent representation! You go, girl!! God bless you as you write for Him! :)

    Karen - Welcome back! Hope your unplugged time was extremely productive, yet refreshing (Is that possible?!). I'm trying to push myself to write even when I don't feel like it. Have a wonderful week! God bless! :)

    Vickie - So good to see you! I've missed seeing you around the blogosphere. You're wise to realize that we have nothing to give unless we've been to the Source! Looking forward to swinging by your site soon! God bless you! :)

    Diana - Always good to see you! Glad that the Lord can use these Life Lessons to speak to you, too! Have a blessed week!

    Elaine - Thanks for stopping by! It's always encouraging to know that these lessons are being learned by everyone - maybe not in the writing arena, but in lots of areas. Getting to the horticultural center WAS definitely worth it - they were setting up for a wedding and the flowers were truly beautiful! God bless!

    Kristen - Good to see you! Have you had the opportunity to bike at Callaway? If you have the chance, you'll definitely have to go! Have a wonderful week!

  17. Jill - I have to admit that I just wheeled our bikes out of the garage & washed them the day before we went to Callaway! But we DO love to do things outside. The Gardens were beautiful this time of year and the weather was spectacular. Have a wonderful week! :)

    Susan - So glad this devotional hit the spot! Hope your week is going great and you've been able to make it to the top of your mountain! Praying for you, my friend! Hugs and blessings! :)

    Lynn - Glad you stopped by! It's SO encouraging to know that we don't tackle our mountains alone! The Lord has promised to stay by our side and give us direction one step at a time. Oftentimes we grow the most when we're in the midst of the climb. Hang in there, my friend and continue to look to the Master! God bless!:)

    *Here are a couple of encouraging verses for you: Matt. 17:20 & Matt. 21:21 - if the mountain doesn't move, the Lord will either allow you to go around it, or equip you to climb it! Enjoy the journey!