Gilland: The mountains we climb

Several years ago my wife and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon, to visit our daughter and son-in-law, who lived there at the time. It was our first ever trip to the northwest, and what a beautiful area. From several points in the city, you can see quite a view, a literal vista of MOUNTAINS!

Among other peaks, you can see Mount Hood, a volcanic monster of a mountain, that gives the entire Portland area a distinctive iconic skyline.

Mountains are amazing to me. My first ever trip to the Rockies was a breathtaking experience. Cindy and I had lunch one day in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and I will never forget how I felt as I sat on a park bench and ate a sandwich while we sat and stared at truly “purple mountains” rising up in front of us.

While literal mountains are indeed beautiful, difficulties and hardships that seem like mountains can be breathtaking too—in a radically different way. A sudden job loss, a tragic diagnosis, or even a sudden accident can seemingly loom before us—leaving us with a sense that this problem is like an unscalable obstacle.

My Mom had a saying that she uttered to me during my entire upbringing in Indiana. Whenever I was facing a problem that seemed out of reach, she would say with the greatest sincerity, “Son, just remember that what is hard by the yard is a cinch by the inch.”

That advice has proven to be so helpful to me.

One the most difficult times in my life was when Cindy and I lost a child. Talk about having your breath taken away.

Yet, God’s amazing grace sustained us moment by moment, until we could see that we were going to make it.

Using Mom’s analogy, we took the present difficulties an “inch at a time.” That was all we could handle in the moment. But soon, after that difficult season passed, we could look back and see how far we had come.

The apostle Paul gave us all some great encouragement in Philippians 4:12-13: 

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

If you have mountains before you today, take my Mom’s advice, and then take that first step in faith. You’re going to make it.

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