By Chris Bates
How big are you?
The three of us were resting for the moment in a small valley far into the Colorado backcountry. We were surrounded by mountains that were covered with large golden groves of aspen trees in full fall colors. It was several days into our elk-hunting trip and we had ridden the horses miles farther through the mountain range from our already remote campsite with our bows and loaded-down backpacks.
Our guide wanted us all to split up to do some more extensive scouting before the morning winds shifted. He knew we were experienced outdoorsmen and had the gear we needed. Pointing out the mountains on either side of the valley, he told each of us to explore a different one, said that he would cover a third one on the lower end and gave us a time late in the day to meet back at this same place.
That experience reminded me of some of my solo outings in the backcountry of Oregon and elsewhere. While I was able to spot some elk at a distance at one point, I mainly spent the time hiking up and down the elevations and being absorbed in the breathtaking surroundings. At times like these, it is overwhelming how God’s grace is shown in physical landscapes, and you feel like He has made it all just to show you. At the same time, one can feel so very small and powerless over the massive surroundings. These are some of the same feelings we have going through daily life as followers of our Maker. We are so significant to Him, yet we can also feel so small as we face life’s adversities.
Our challenges come in many forms. Some are natural points of progression in life but are scary nonetheless. For example, starting the new school year is a predicted happening, but for ourselves when we were students — and maybe now for our children or grandchildren — it can seem like having to climb one those Colorado mountains alone. As we journey forward in life, those expected hurdles might look like a new job, moving, saving money or trying to age well.
Other difficulties we might have to face can be impossible to see coming. We can feel infinitely small when facing divorce or addiction or cancer or significant loss of any sort. Sometimes the challenges hardest to predict can be the ones that occur slowly over time, like bad habits, resentments or failures that we carry like a yoke. Another is when we watch someone else whom we love struggling and we feel even smaller and more powerless. These encounters of different sizes along our journey can feel like hills or unsurmountable mountains.
When we stand in front of our challenges, we can choose how to proceed. Hopefully, we pause and look around long enough to know that we are never alone, He is arming us and we are far stronger than we might feel. We might feel small but we are not. Anyone anywhere can be big and be brave. We are given power through Christ that is beyond what we can imagine until we reach out and grasp it.
Paul shares his experience in Philippians 4:12-13, saying, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” This is just the kind of example that we can remember and choose to apply as we walk forward.
Some time ago our Bible study group read “Facing Your Giants” by Max Lucado. In much of it, he uses the story of David facing the roar of Goliath and inspires us to draw on God’s power ourselves:
“David was ready to empty the chamber if that’s what it took. Imitate him. Never give up. One prayer might not be enough. One apology might not do it. One day or month of resolve might not suffice. You might get knocked down a time or two … but don’t quit. Keep loading the rocks. Keep swinging the sling … Next time Goliath wakes you up, reach for a stone. Odds are, he’ll be out of the room before you can load your sling.”
How big are you as each Goliath comes toward you? Was your giant that first walk into the lunchroom at school? Is your giant now the need to make some significant change in your life? The same God that helped David will help you. The trick is you don’t have to be taller, smarter, richer, or more muscular than your giants. You just need to have the right partner handing you the rocks — and you have that by simply reaching out to Him.
Chris is President & Founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.