For the past few days, I've been off at Ozark's Spiritual Formation Retreat. And it was fantastic. Definitely one of the best things I have done in my time at Ozark. It really focused me for the upcoming semester and helped push aside a lot of things that distract me from God. And not only that, but it gave me a lot of things to think about, and thus to blog about! And I know all of you are oh so excited for that!
One day on the retreat, we were told to go out and just walk, observing the things around us, praying, and asking God to speak to us. And so I began to walk. There was a wooded area behind the retreat center, so I decided to head for that. And I soon discovered that I was not really on any kind of path but was instead just trekking straight on through the trees and everything else that was there. So of course, I came upon a number of obstacles that hindered my journey: logs, thornbushes, etc. Normally, all of that stuff would be no problem for me, but as a lot of you know, I injured my knee about a month ago. And although my knee is doing a whole lot better and didn't cause me any serious problems on my hike, it's still not 100%. Thus, the thorns and other obstacles became somewhat more daunting. Objects that I would normally be able to jump over or step around were a little more challenging. On my hike, there were two different types of obstacles: external obstacles (the logs and thorns) and internal obstacles (my knee). The challenge of the external obstacles was amplified by the severity of my internal obstacle.
And now for the metaphor. Think of life as a hike. In the walk of life, we are faced with a number of external obstacles that we can't really do anything about: tragedies, family situations, financial problems, etc. In addition, we all possess some amount of an internal obstacle, whether it be some sin or attitude or whatever. A person without an internal obstacle would be someone whose heart is completely right before God in faith, love, and hope. And I wonder how many of the external obstacles we face are only so difficult because we allow internal obstacles to drag us down. Just as I would be more able to tackle the fallen tree limbs on my hike if my knee were totally healthy, I suspect we would be more equipped to handle life's problems if our hearts were spiritually healthy.
I think about people in the Bible who went through especially hard times, like Joseph and David and Job and Paul. All of these guys handled life's troubles a whole lot better than I do. Why? Likely because they had right hearts. They didn't have as many internal obstacles magnifying their external problems. They nurtured their spirituality so that when tough times came, they were able to handle the situation.
Bad things happen, and they have the dangerous ability of pulling us down. It can seem so impossible to get through an awful circumstance. But if we prepare ourselves now by recognizing our internal obstacles and minimizing them, I think we'll be be much more ready for what the world throws at us. Don't let a bum knee keep you from jumping over thornbushes.