An upward climb. Treacherous and steep, these stairs are carved in a mound of stone knows as Mars Hill, situated below the Parthenon in Athens. The stairs are worn and difficult to climb. Reaching the top is hazardous and draining. But I was determined to reach the top. This was a special place.
It was here that Paul reasoned with the intellectuals of the time. He spoke of the One True God in a city full of thousands of gods. He told them that in this One True God, we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
I had the amazing opportunity to be in Athens in 2008, and took this photo to commemorate achieving the top. They remind me of life. Sometimes our path leads us to difficult terrain. Paths filled with steep stairs; worn and slippery with little to hold onto as you make the long climb up.
Worn down by countless feet over thousands of years, the stones on Mars Hill are smooth in places and almost slippery. They remind me that I am not the first to walk this way. Countless numbers had also climbed to the top of this small mound. It reminds me that I am not the first to walk this path I face today. Just as I was not the first to climb Mars Hill, I am not the first to face cancer.
I was not alone that warm April Day. My friend, Beth, and I climbed the steep stairway – together. Supporting and helping each other along the narrow, and amazingly slippery climb, we persevered. We were determined to make the top. This was the way that Paul had come. We had other options to get there, but this way was special.
Like that climb with my friend, I am not alone as I begin the ascent before me today. The Holy Spirit is with me, guiding me, taking my hand when I need it and encouraging me when I want to stop; lending me His strength when I want to give up. I am not alone. I have been blessed by God with friends and family who love me and cheer me on in my fight to reach the top.
The climb before me is daunting. Will I press on? Or will I give up? There are moments, when my heart fears the climb before me. Self-pity whines “why me?” Fear whispers that I am going to fail. A shadow covers my heart; the shadow of death. I cry out, “Please, no.”
I know that one day I will die. And though I do not expect to go in the near future, the fact is, someday I will leave this life behind and enter into glory. We all will die (unless Christ returns before our time is up). But having to deal with this beast called cancer, my mortality has become more real to me. It colors my perception. Things I used to think so important are less so. Though I will fight hard to win this battle, I realize how precious time is and that I don’t want to waste any more of it on foolish things. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs crying, is NOT an option. It is time to fight! It is time to climb.
As Beth and I reached the final step and attained our goal, we were transfixed by the view. We could see 360 degrees around and it was breath taking. There are no words to describe the exhilaration of reaching the top of that mound of limestone. Breathless and shaking from exhaustion, I took it all in. All thoughts of the struggle were forgotten, as I celebrated my victory in achieving the top. I was standing where Paul once stood! It was here he preached. It made the passage in Acts come to life. I felt, that in some very small way, I was a part of his story.
So what awaits me at the top of this hill I face today? Is it worth it? Yes. Though, I do not know what I will face along the way – I know it will be worth every single tear. It will be worth the sorrow and suffering. Why? Because I am being shaped by this journey; shaped into the image of Christ. Along with the sorrow, I will find joy. For every tear, I will be blessed with laughter. With every moment of suffering, My Father will give me His peace – His strength.
Best of all – I am NEVER alone. There are no words to describe the overwhelming presence of My Father that surrounds me. The peace that comes and comforts me when I call out to Him when I am afraid. Every tear I shed, My Father kisses away. I am learning to trust Him like never before. I am being transformed from one glory to another.
Father – You are my strength and shield! You alone are God and there is no other. Your love surrounds me and lifts me up. I am loved. I am Yours. I am clay in Your hands. Help me cooperate with You as You shape me into something wonderful for Your glory. For You are the Master Potter, and Your works are masterpieces. I am the clay in your hands.
I give you all my fears, tears and discouragement. I lay them at your scarred feet. Take them Lord Jesus, and replace them with courage, joy and songs of rejoicing. I trust You. I love You. I will follow You wherever You may lead.
Blessings my friends!