During an impromptu, unguided hike under a towering canopy, The Pilgrim's Progress came to mind. I had found myself doubting the faintly-marked, narrow trail that wound its way across a changing terrain - tree roots the width of my thigh, clay hills, muddy banks and ancient rocks - wondering if the route was outdated, tempted with each passing minute to search for another way besides the never-ending path we were on whenever alternative options looked easier or voices were heard through the trees.
Half-tumbling, half-stomping through the uncertain undergrowth, when we finally reached our journey's end it dawned that whether shadows threaten or our hearts embrace nature's beauty, if we pursue the path steadfastly, we will arrive at our destination.
Just as it was on the hike, so it is in life. I was reminded that though the earth's riches may beckon, and worldly wisdom captivates with her allure, though distractions may direct affections and energy elsewhere, and anxiety brings us low, all that is required in this Christian life is that I remain a faithful witness and helper, loving God and His church (what that looks like in practice is another story!).
There is no promise that the path will be free from burrs or creatures that sting and cause harm; there will be times when the path is showered with mercies abundant. Whatever our personal experiences, we walk humbly in the footprints of giants who have gone before us, knowing that even as our heart's yearning is for a distant future, the groaning itself is a gift, as we wait eagerly for redemption at the end of a long road of perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.