Like most others across the United States, my children finished up their last nine weeks of school at home. Our private Christian schoolteachers went above and beyond the call of duty, recreating their curriculum and teaching methods to continue to press their students to finish the year well. Of course, the end of the school year usually holds the biggest learning challenges to overcome. The final exams, the research papers, the essays, these are the things that you spend the whole year working to teach, so that the students learn and grow in preparation for the coming year’s learning. Without the benefit of having the students in class, however, all the teachers can do is provide the lessons. The students must engage and take up the responsibility for their own success without the encouragement and help an onsite teacher would provide.
My youngest child just completed sixth grade yesterday. One of her final projects in English required her first research paper due three days before the end of school. Her teacher broke the preparation into baby steps and gave thorough instruction on how to find credible information online, as they would have no access to library books. Once she chose the historical figure she deemed most important within the last 500 years, the next step was to craft a thesis statement that she would then prove with her research. Her research would need to fill five required paragraphs, the fifth one bearing out her conclusion. This project, to my overwhelmed child, was the Mount Everest of sixth grade. In her estimation, this impossible task could not be accomplished. The night before the project was due, she hopelessly gazed at the computer wishing the words to appear on the screen without any effort on her part. Her lack of effort to engage with the learning and her procrastination up to this point left me with little sympathy for the tears streaming down her face. Walking away in frustration, I took a minute to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom regarding this youngest child of mine. My plan was to let her sink or swim, but His gentle nudge sent me to sit beside her. I called her to look at me, and reminded her that she could do hard things. She did not have to do it alone. I guided her to her sources, asking her questions that made her look for the answers. When she did not understand the advanced wording from the online sources, we looked up the words in the online dictionary together. She began to fill up her five paragraphs, working for six hours until the final edits had been accomplished. Mount Everest had been climbed, conquered, and celebrated. The next mountain would not seem quite so insurmountable after this.
This week, I ran into my own Mount Everest. A spiritual battle loomed large in my path, leading me to question the One trying to teach me how to overcome it. He had given me step by step instruction on how to move forward, but the task still seemed insurmountable. Could I obey in this instance? What if I had to go it alone? Doubts crowded out His instruction and my flesh longed for an easier path. Taking up His cross and following Him required more than I thought it would when I started out on this quest. But His Spirit walked right beside me, took my hand, and reminded me that with His help, I could do hard things. As I read His Word, He raised questions that drove me to look for the answers I needed. Grace became my teacher, my enabler, and my strength to obey the task He had set before me. Grace never ignores or avoids obedience, it only presses forward. It never takes the path of least resistance, never serves the flesh. Grace is the teacher that leads us to climb, conquer, and then celebrate those obstacles that threaten to derail our spiritual growth. There is no mountain too high that grace cannot overcome.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14
What Mount Everest looms before you today, my friend? Is there some sin derailing your walk with Him? His grace comes alongside to enable and strengthen you to overcome. Is there a seemingly impossible talk He is calling you to undertake? That same grace enables and strengthens you to obey Him. Take Him at His Word and press on. There is much to celebrate when the summit is reached.