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Monday, December 9, 2013

Climbing a Hill

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend time with my nieces and nephews. Seeing a child's eyes light up as they return my smile and hearing their bursts of pure laughter are beautiful gifts to my heart.

One night, I found myself at the top of a hill as evening approached and the winter chill was setting in. My husband and I had just returned from a special birthday "date" with one of our nephews. We took him for a hot chocolate and cookie, just the three of us. He chattered on about so many things and this little man told us that one of the things he wanted to do was climb a hill. So, Uncle Chris stopped the car a little ways from our house and took Jude by the hand and said, "Come on Jude, let's go climb a hill." His smile beamed and lit up our world as he ran towards the small trail head. I took the car and drove the hundred yards or so home where his brother and sister were awaiting our return.

I told them Uncle Chris and Jude were climbing a hill and they instantly ran for the door and scrambled to get their shoes on so they could join in this adventure. Jonah tied his shoes like the big man he is, and his sister Idelette tried so hard to get her little Santa's elf shoes on so as not to be left behind.

We crossed the street and looked over the hill and there they were, Uncle Chris and Jude, climbing a hill. Idelette instantly jumped into my arms and screamed at the top of her lungs, "Hi Chris! Hi Chris!" waving her arms wildly until Chris waved back at her with matched enthusiasm. In front of us, Jonah scrambled a couple of feet down the hill and slid a bit in the dirt. Idelette saw this and clung a little tighter to me. I looked at her, blonde curls bouncing, and then our conversation went like this:

"Ok, you still wanna climb down?"

"Yeah!" Eyes gleaming, she was the picture of adventure. I went to put her down and after taking one step, she leaped back into my arms.

"I'm scared!"

"That's ok Idelette, do you want me to take you back inside?" I began to turn towards the house and found two little hands on my cheeks. I looked into those very serious eyes that were staring back at me.

"No, I want to go down there." She pointed with fierceness at where Jude and Chris were about to meet up with Jonah on a small trail in between climbing hills.

"Ok." I tried to put her down and she clung to me once again.

With my cheeks once again squished, she looked at me and smiled and said, "No. You. You take me down there."

I looked down the hill and realized that she was scared but was not going to turn back.

She didn't want to walk down the hill on her own and I could tell by the look in her eyes that she had no doubt in my ability to carry her all the way down the climbing hill with no problem whatsoever.

Knowing there was no arguing with this little adventurer, I looked again at the hill below me and said a quick prayer that God would keep my feet secure so I didn't drop this little girl's faith on the side of the mountain.

I looked back at her again and she was ready. I gripped her little body tightly as we started to descend. I used my full concentration and all my strength to stay on my feet, grabbing branches and using rocks to dig my feet into the dirt step by step. I was serious and focused.

Idelette was screaming, "Hi Chris! Hi Jude!  Hi Jonah! We are coming!" Her not so little voice echoed in the valley as she smiled and waved and had the time of her life "climbing" down the hill.

We reached the bottom, I gently set her down, and she took off running towards the boys. I stood there for a second to catch my breath and thanked God that I made it down without falling. I watched her joy explode as she joined the others in the birthday treat adventure to climb a hill.

Towards the end of our adventure, I prayed a little harder because I ended up carrying her back up part of the hill at her request. I prayed because I am out of shape and can barely carry myself up the hill, but God is faithful in our times of need, so we made it.

We walked back into the house as the coolness of the air and the darkness of evening fell. I caught my breath while listening to a few little voices recount the adventure to those who had been making dinner. I couldn't help but think that how Idelette was with me is how God wants us to be with Him.

She saw the adventure before her, and she wanted to go, but she was scared. How often does God call me on an adventure with Him and I have second thoughts and go back to the house to sit where it's safe and warm waiting to hear the stories of those who went for it? Too often, I hate to admit.

However, Idelette did not shrink back. She jumped into the arms of the one she believed could get her to where she needed to go. She not only trusted me, she enjoyed me and the ride along the way. I love being with children. They teach me so much about how I need to align my heart with the one whose arms are open wide to lift me up when I realize I just can't do it on my own.

I want to be like Idelette who wanted to go on the adventure no matter what. She was not ashamed or guilty about the fact that she needed help. I need to remember this and find freedom in this truth. I can't do this life on my own and it's not only ok for me to jump into His arms, but He loves it when I do. He will never drop me or run out of breath.

So let's all take a lesson from Idelette because:

We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39)