Ups and Downs

I’m one of these people who can make a yo-yo go down and stay there. I wiggle the string, it bounces, but no up. Sometimes my Christian walk is just that. Wow to down.

Santa Cruz, CA boardwalk, 1992. It’s roller coaster was built in the 1920’s, wooden, creaky, shaky; it looked that old and because it was part of a boardwalk atmosphere i.e. compact, it was more up and down than around, therefore steep. My brother-in-law dragged me onto it. My face was whiter than usual and the knuckles were locked like a pitbull’s jaws. The idiot brother-in-law, the Northwest senior pilot, Mr. Checklist, had an evil grin on his face and his arms in the air. A pox on him! Then I got used to it and by the 5th or 9th trip, I had my arms in the air. I have a picture to prove it.

There are times I allow my walk with Jesus to resemble a roller coaster. They go down, up, fast. They jiggle, I get tense. And when the ride is over, I am back where I started. This analogy illustrates a bad example on my part and a serious lack of productivity. No progress at all, even fewer goals and achievements.

I much prefer the Hill Country analogy. A journey, sometimes slow through the valleys, not all shadow, a speed tailored for me, not by me. Then the climbs to the hilltops. You’ve been there. Fresh air, a great view, a celebration, laughter, twirling. I feel like I look like the opening to Sound of Music. I don’t. Look from the hilltop. There are more hilltops to see and experience. The one you’re on isn’t a place to stay. It’s a place to visit. To sit down and enjoy the view. To lay back and feel the cool surface beneath. To relax and soak up the joy. But, the higher the hilltop or mountain top, the smaller the flowers, not as much growth. Limited nourishment. Temporary.

Then the descent. To avoid tripping and rolling, hurting myself on a rock, I am to hold His hand. Back to the valley again. But notice this. There’s lush growth in the valley. When it’s nightfall, when there’s depression and tears, the crop is watered, we lean on Him for healing. He permits hard lessons in the valleys because He can see around the mountains and knows what I need to learn and feel. It’s only then that I can help another traveler to his feet if I know what he felt like when he fell. Falling is not something we do intentionally. Falls happen when we aren’t alert. I am not alert frequently. So He will use those falls for His Kingdom’s advantage to help others see Him, find Him, love Him, and accept Him–through me. When there’s growth, there’s progress and productivity, stretching, dependence on Him.

I sang to Drew–“When You’re Smilin’.” He looked at me funny. I’ll sing it again the next time I see him. And the next time, and so on. Because it is the attitude that allows us another climb up to the hilltop. Praise Him on the mountain top. Praise Him in the valley. I said, praise Him in the valley.

The Hill Country is the best. The faith under foot is solid and strong. My performance may resemble a yo-yo or a roller coaster occasionally, but the One Who leads me won’t let me stay down when I reach for His hand.

A man is not condemned for falling, only for refusing to get up.

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