Bonnie Gray is the soulful author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit Bonnie at www.thebonniegray.com and connect with her @thebonniegray on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
When your faith journey leads you downhill -- with fears and anxiety overwhelming you -- how can God make a way?
I inched along my familiar walking path. Uphill.
My legs plod ahead on auto-pilot, just like the countless times they've done along this dirt trail. The wind is blowing gently, the air still crisp because the sun is still rubbing sleep from its eyes.
I can't seem to feel comfort from any of it.
I'm waiting for peace to seep into me, like it always has whenever I escape into the quiet. But early this morning, it felt like I was walking knee-deep in snow. My feet felt heavy like lead, even though I was simply stepping through summer air.
There was no snow-covered mountain for me to scale.
But, deep in my heart, there's been an avalanche.
A crushing weight of pressure to perform. To shake whatever's bothering me. To move ahead and just get back to being me: the one who can take action. The one who knows how to make decisions -- to set a goal and climb mountains until I've reached the top of Mount Everest.
But, I can't shake it.
This avalanche of worry.
This avalanche of
and imperfect choices.
It's not the first time I've faced uncertainty. That isn't what fazed me.
No, what I fear wasn't the unknown.
What I feared was the certainty of what's ahead.
the journey through stress god's placed me on isn't going to be easy.
I wanted to find another way out, but anxiety wasn't going away.
I stopped mid-way on the side of the mountain, overwhelmed by how alone I felt in that moment.
Why wasn't God helping me find a way out?
I had been praying night and day, meditating on Scripture by the bulk, confiding in godly counsel, and seeking Him in all the ways I knew to do.
Time was running out. Days grew into weeks. Weeks into months.
Where are you, God?
I don't know how long I stood there crying into the wind, as the rolling landscape I have always sought refuge blurred into a wet, blurry kleenex-emergency mess.
I didn't want to hike any longer. I turned to head back to the car. The morning was rising and I didn't want any passer-byers to catch sight of my puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks.
As I made my way down the mountain, something caught my eye. Far to the right of my shoulder, I see...
Flecks of orange scattered out between the expanse of brittle, yellowed dried-out shrubs of summer.
My steps carry me quicker downhill. I want to get closer. This color -- so brilliant. So vibrant.
I don't remember seeing any of this on my way up. I whisper. What is it?
Golden, tangerine, California poppies dotting the hills.
And I wonder. Was I so lost in my avalanche of worries that I missed all this going uphill?
I must have been looking so intensely on my path winding up, that I didn't see the view on either side.
Sometimes determination --- having been useful in one season of life -- can hold us captive to keep barreling forward, instead of hearing God whisper, "Let go. Change course."
Sometimes the time for determination expires -- and walking by faith by letting go begins.
Determination can leave us blind -- or we can use it to walk downhill.
To still waters.
I didn't see any of these quiet petals blooming among weeds, reaching out softly among the cindery, worn out soil.
And just like the delicate petals of poppies I stooped down to trace gently with my fingers -- I felt God speak straight into where my heart could still hear Him:
The view downhill, Bonnie.
There's beauty here. Just for you. Downhill.
Downhill? I don't want to go downhill. I've always traveled uphill.
But, here Jesus was leading me.
God was making a way for me. It's downhill.
Was I willing to travel this way with Jesus? Will I trust him in the descent -- as passionately as I trusted Him in the ascent?
I don't know... I choked, my heart breaking in surrender. If you promise there will be poppies.
If you promise there will be beauty -- among the weeds and the barrenness -- if you promise me you'll still plant golden petals of Jesus, I will go downhill... with you.
As I made my way down the mountain, I took the fork in the road that led to a creek downwind -- that carried me to a meadow -- where a big oak tree sprawls it's long arms across the sky, like lightning across a desert sky.
There, at the bottom of my hike, I closed my eyes and stood silently to pray.
Give me courage to walk downhill, Jesus.
As I whispered out to Him again, I notice the ground I'm standing on is wet from the morning dew.
Soil. Wet. Rich.
You are good soil, Bonnie.
And God's words thundered on my soul like wet rain on a sweltering summer day ---
I laughed. I cried.
This avalanche my soul's been covered with -- this avalanche of worry -- cannot keep me from God's ways.
God will make a way to me -- even in this avalanche.
God is already making a way in me -- because His word is in me.
It's that simple.
It's that profound.
It's that true.
God's word in you -- all those quiet times you've savored and swallowed His words --
-- whether on a written page in Scripture,
-- in the voice of a friend praying with you,
-- in the stars you see at night,
-- or the sun that warms your skin by day
... God's word in you is not going to return void.
You don't need to know how it's going to happen. Just keep walking in the direction He is calling you to enter.
His word -- alive in you -- and me -- through the heartbeat of Jesus in us -- will not fail to bring you through.
Jesus is here to stay. His words are going to blossom, no matter how dry or brittle the soil is.
Because you see -- poppies are drought tolerant. Their beautiful petals thrive on well-drained sandy or cindery dry soils. At night time or during cold, windy or cloudy weather California poppy flowers close.
But, when morning comes or the weather conditions pass from harsh to mild, poppy flowers open up and stand in the brilliance of color.
There is another view for us to journey through -- you and me. And I'd like to whisper some good news to you, as it was spoken to me.
You. are. good. soil.
There is a beautiful view for us to take in. It's not one we can see going up uphill.
This is beauty that moves in, with the midst of morning dew -- as we journey downward.
Downward. It's the kind of beauty that the One who created you promises to blossom in you. It's His seed -- His word, coming alive in you.
You and I will see it emerge together. Down by the oak tree where our journey downhill will lead us. Right next to cool waters of the creek hidden below. Even when it's sown in tears and sorrow, I'll see petals of His love and His presence, opening up in you.
Today, if you are staring downhill, hesitant to begin -- or continue -- your faith journey as it leads you to descend where you once stood -- know for certain: God will make a way in the desert.
You and I don't have to do a thing, other than crawl into His arms that are reaching out to embrace you. He has already made His way to where you are standing, waiting and wondering.
He's made a way into your heart -- and He promises to never leave -- because He has made His home -- within you.
What is God whispering to you on your faith journey today?
How is God making a way for you?
Pull up a chair. click to comment.
We encourage each other, sharing the journey. As is.
By Bonnie Gray, the faithbarista serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is the Founder of faithbarista.com and featured writer for Hallmark subsidiary DaySpring's (in)courage. Bonnie is currently working on her debut book, to be published by Revell Books. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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