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by Tom Gilson
I met my wife on a glorious day of hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Much of our courtship in the years after that was on hiking trails. Lately I’ve been grounded by a persistent foot injury, but I’m still praying to return to the trails where I feel I belong.
One thing I’ve learned in hiking is the importance of keeping my eyes up off the path in front of my feet, not only for the view, but also to keep track of where I am, especially when walking in new territory. At the end of the day, after all, I want to find my way home again.
Christians in the Western world are walking new paths. Everything looks different from here on. At times I think we act as if we really are lost, threatened, seriously at risk. I see this in the inward-focused, self-protective posture we often adopt, and in the anger with which we too often lash out at those who are remaking our world.
We need a new orientation, a new perspective. We need to look up from our feet—ourselves, that is—and take a good look around.
The landscape around us is disconcertingly unfamiliar these days. Cultural attitudes are turning hard against us. Government policies are shifting disturbingly, on everything from marriage, to taxes, to pizza parlors operating according to conscience. We’re in trouble these days, or so it seems, looking down.
Looking up, though, the panorama could hardly be more different. The sky is blue, the air is fresh and clear, and the sun is shining bright on glorious mountain vistas. Yes, there are forces lined up against us, but look who’s on our side:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
Do we need to be saved from hard times? Yes, but not to worry: Jesus accomplished that for us long ago.
I do not mean to be flippant. The storms out there could toss our way of life totally upside down. Jesus Christ didn’t sacrifice Himself for a way of life, though; He died and rose again to give us life itself. That tells us what’s most important in God’s eyes, and what should be most important in ours. It’s so important, in fact, that God will even let us be rocked completely out of our comfortable and familiar milieu, for the sake of growing in His life…
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