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The purpose of this blog is to encourage your personal, daily walk with Jesus Christ, by seeing Him through the eyes of Mark Rodriguez. Updates will be made regularly so please subscribe. Most posts are taken from Mark's private journals or written by his mother unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What to do when the Hill becomes a Mountain

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:   
That you, O God are Strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” 
Psalm 62:11-12b

It was going to be our “easy” day. Acadia National Park, Maine was beautiful, but our flatlander Virginia Beach legs were hurting from the mountainous hiking the day before.  So today we were going to rest.  We planned to leisurely bike ride along carriage trails until we got to Jordan Pond.  Jordan Pond brags the best Popovers and blueberry lemonade in Maine.  That was the kind of day we signed up for.   

At the Bike rental shop, a very strong rustic Mainer (Maineiac) woman told us we had just missed the shuttle to the carriage trails.  “No problem,” she assured us.  “It is just an easy 2 mile bike ride to the carriage trails.  Once you get past the little hill, you will be fine.” 

Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the bike shop but I knew to clarify.  “Hill?  Define ‘hill’ please.  We are from Virginia Beach.  It is flat there.” 

“Oh,” she nodded with understanding (pity?) in her eyes “…so I should say mountain, little mountain…once you get past that you will be fine.”   Of course we will. 

Our group was relatively young (ahem), in shape and prideful enough to think we could handle this challenge.  One small issue was our daughter, Maria, did not know how to ride a bike.  So, not to be stopped by such a small hindrance, Carlos decided to rent a tandem bike.  They practiced around the parking lot and we set off.  

Did I mention the small hill mountain?  
I don’t know what our friendly Maineiac was thinking to entrust this task to us.  Before we even started up the small hill mountain we lost one of the wiser of our group to a coffee shop.  The complaining began.  We joyfully yelled, “Hey, this is the worst part, kids.  Just around that corner….”

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Carlos, Maria’s bike seat was up too high and her knees were whacking the handlebar. Over the sound of his own labored breathing he heard her start crying. He felt terrible and immediately pulled over.  

He gently removed her helmet and he told her that Daddy would get her to the top of the mountain where she could have popovers and lemonade.  He kissed her knees, gave her water and this is when I fell in love with my man all over again.   

If I had been riding with her I would not have been able to make such a promise.  There was no way I could bike her up the mountain.  But the most humbling thing is I also realized I was nowhere near as patient as he was.  I would have been frustrated, asking her to keep pedaling because I couldn’t do it alone.  And most likely, I would have quit. I would not have been able to get us where we both wanted to go.   

But her Daddy was able. 

The small hill mountain that was supposed to be 2 miles ended up being a 10 ½ mile mostly uphill climb. And while Carlos suffered to lug Maria (who did not peddle AT ALL) and her half of the tandem bike up the mountain, Maria was perfectly content.  Her Daddy was strong enough and kind enough to get her safely to their destination. 

In that moment, Carlos showed me in the flesh what Psalm 62: 11-12b tells us about God:
“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:   
That you, O God are Strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.”

When Maria was unable to make it up the mountain, she could rely on her Daddy because he was strong enough and kind enough to get her to the top.  When my life goes from hard to impossible, I need what Maria needed.  I need a God that is both strong AND loving.  

Can you imagine if God was either one or the other, but not both?  

A God who is just loving would be like a kindly old granddaddy who is good for a hug and some candy, but not able to fight off the bad guys.  He would comfort us perhaps with “I’m sorry that happened to you.” But a just kindly God would not avenge us or be able to change anything.  

A God who is only Strong would not necessarily have the kindness necessary to handle my weaknesses and insecurities. He might say “Suck it up” or get angry with me.   

But a God who is both STRONG and LOVING is the perfect God, who like a good Father not only has compassion on me, but is strong enough to get me through the incredibly hard times I cannot and do not want to go through.   And He does this because He desires to share the destination with me. 

We will never, ever forget the feast of Jordon Pond popovers and blueberry lemonade that awaited us at the top of the mountain.  And as we enjoyed full tummies and the sugar coma that set in, we told stories of how we made it up the mountain.   I think that was a little slice of heaven right there.  When we arrive at Heaven’s banquet table there will be stories to share and victories to celebrate, but in the meantime, I want to be sure that I am not suffering out the mountain alone.  Just as it would have been ridiculous for Maria to tackle that mountain alone, it is crazy for me to think I can handle what this day holds.  God, the strong AND loving God, is more than able.  And He avails Himself to me and to you.   

God is, after all, Super Good.  

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