Today Hans, Louisa, and I took 3 little ones to our snow-covered beach where we careened down slippery dunes on plastic sleds amidst abundant giggles and squeals. Twice our sleds ended up in the creek, but wet legs and mittens never dampened spirits.
When we first arrived, the children couldn’t get enough of the “down” but resisted the arduous “ups”, pleading to be pulled to the top of the snowy dune while sitting in the sleds. We complied, wanting them to gain enough enthusiasm for the sledding experience to stay all afternoon.
After a few hauls up, however, we adults began insisting the children climb back up by themselves, to which there was unanimous objection. Ages 3, 2, and 2, they planted themselves at the bottom, refusing to come up without assistance. We stood at the top cajoling them, but still they refused, wanting us to make the experience easier on them.
I’ve done something quite similar when God has asked me to make a hard climb toward a difficult goal he’s set for me. Knowing it would be difficult and that he could make things easier caused me to plead for him to do so. But the hard truth was that without the pain, I’d have missed the gain.
Our little ones could have chosen to stand at the bottom of the hill indefinitely, but if they had, they’d have missed the delights of a fast ride down on a sled. Something similar happens when we mentally shake a fist at God and say, “You aren’t being fair! None of my friends have had to go through what you’re putting me through. I simply refuse to obey you.”
In that situation, God says the same thing Hans said to his children this afternoon. “Ok, have it your way. But you won’t get to slide down if you don’t come up first.”
All of us would rather live life on a continual down-hill, but that trajectory would put us on a slippery slope to self-indulgence. When we refuse to take any route other than the easy one, we become lethargic and spoiled. Worse yet, we miss the joy that becomes ours after we obey an all-wise God.
Even a young child can figure that out. Today after one of our little ones finally decided to trudge up the dune to get a ride down, the other two stumbled their way up, too. It was rewarding to see how well they adjusted to doing the difficult thing, if it meant they could have another joyful sled ride. Before long they were running up the dune to “go again.”
And it works the same with us. Once we’re willing to tackle God’s prescribed challenges, the excitement of sharing in the results he brings makes it much easier to trudge up next time, so we can “go again.”
“What I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” (Deuteronomy 30:11)