It’s my beloved enemy. I always resist it. I always fight it. And, when I realize that the only way to true victory is to relent to it, I eventually sit down and surrender. Eventually. Even then though, I sit there with gritted teeth. I reach out to it with one hand and push it away with the other. I reach out to everything He’s promised me, while at the same time, squinting my eyes and covering my face, trying to shield the pain and discomfort that I know will come too. As the discomfort closes in around me, I pull my knees to my chest and wrap my arms around them, burying my head on top of them. I think and dream about running back to my comfort. I know I can’t, so I don’t even bother. I sigh. I wait. I grit my teeth. And I remember this: what kills you will only make you stronger. It’s not something I tell myself. It’s an attitude I have. I look at the discomfort like a foe in battle. I can either learn to live with it, despising it the rest of my life — or, I can conquer it. Discomfort is now my enemy. The change He’s promised me is my destination, my prize, and the reason I fight.
I pull out the sword He’s given me. I look down at it and can see my image reflecting back at me. It’s still shiny. My heart sinks. It’s spent far too long hanging over the fireplace and not enough piercing into the heart of my enemy. I shake my head. Today is the day, a new day, God’s day. I won’t look any longer on the regrets of my past. I mount my horse. I look into the storm. Lightening strikes on the ground in front of me. Thunder booms so loud that my eardrums shake. Cold, frigid rain thrusts down onto my head. I can’t see my destination. It’s on the other side of the hill. I can’t see the hill, but I know if I keep riding, I will inevitably reach it. I look back. I can see clearly the land I came from. It is a small land, with a small, tattered looking house in the midst of desolation. But it’s close. And if I turn back now, I know I won’t even be threatened or challenged. I’ll be welcomed.
Tears well up my eyes. I want victory, but I also want to turn back. And it’d be much easier. There would be no fight. I turn my horse around and walk closer to the safety behind me. My heart is beating faster. This is it. I must decide. I turn my head and look into the storm. The further I look, the more threatening and angry the storm appears. I know the hill is out there somewhere in that darkness. I know there’s something on the other side of the hill, but I don’t know what it looks like. Will I be welcomed? Maybe not. I turn my head and inch closer to safety. It may not be amazing, but it’s predictable. No one would fight me. In fact, they want me to come back. My heart beats faster. I know He’d forgive me. I look down at my shiny sword and see my face again, scared, frightened, completely uncertain. Yeah, He’d forgive me. But would I forgive me? Would I ever be able to live, knowing that the Promised Land was one fight away?
I look up at the dark sky and rain pelts my face. It hurts like the slap of sand in a sand storm. Who am I? Am I a coward or a warrior? I’m a coward. He says I’m a warrior. I look back again. Safety. Security. Comfort. Predictability. If I go back, I will be outwardly happy. But inwardly, I will always feel and see and know the coward who lives inside of me. I look back at the storm. If I go, I must fight. Cowards don’t fight. Warriors fight. And that’s who I’ll be. If I get to that hill, it’s only because I’ve defeated the discomfort that fought me and assaulted me and kicked me and tried to kill me all the way there. Lightening strikes feet away and the thunder that follows resounds for what feels like a short eternity. I’ve had enough of this. The rain turns to hail and pelts me harder, piercing into my skin, most likely leaving bruises everywhere it lands. I scream and yell. Anger rises up inside of me. I pull my sword out and hoist it in the air. I dig my heels into the horse’s sides and it reacts. He starts to run. I dig my heels in again and he runs faster. The wind has shifted and now the hail is not pelting me from above, it’s pelting me onwardly in the face. I keep going. I’m too angry to stop.
The storm gets worse. The lightening is more frequent and closer. The thunder is louder. But I no longer notice the discomfort. I’m fighting to win. And if necessary, I will fight to the death. I will get to that hill. I will not be defeated. The hail is still falling, I can see it, but I can’t feel it. The lightening must still be striking, because I can see it’s light. The thunder is booming, I can feel it’s vibration, but I cannot hear it. I’m still fighting, but I’ve already won. Where is my prize? It’s there. I know it is.
I keep riding. The horse slows down and we begin to move upward. It is completely dark, but I know we’re ascending because I have to lean forward to stay on. We slide backwards, entrenched in the mud, and then we gain momentum and move further up the mound. We get stuck and I fall off. I claw and scratch and my horse frees himself and runs ahead of me. I call his name, but he doesn’t come back. I reach for my sword and drive it in the ground as hard as I can. Then I use it to hoist me out. I get out but have to keep moving before I sink again. There’s no chance to rescue my sword. If I go back for it, I’d take the risk of never getting out of the mud. My heart sinks. I was finally using it. It was just starting to get dirty from battle. But I can’t look back. I keep going. I keep clawing. The land flattens out. I am no longer clawing to keep from sliding backwards. I’ve reached the top of the hill. I’m there. I’m there.
I lift my head. I lift my eyes. The darkness is gone. The cold is gone. The mud is gone. The thunder and lightening have ceased. The fight is over. I am there. And before me, He stands. I can feel His love and joy crashing from His heart to mine and over all of who I am. He knew I’d come. I can see it in His eyes. He’s not surprised in the least. But He is inexpressibly full of delight. He’s holding something in His hands. I strain my eyes to see what it is. He reaches His hands forward to give me something. It’s my sword. It’s dirty. It’s caked with mud and blood from the battle. I smile. That thing was never meant to by shiny. Good job, He says. He’s so proud of me. I run into His arms and He catches me, lifting me high into the air and spinning me around. He pulls me close and I have never felt so alive. This is it, He whispers in my ear. I hug Him tighter. What if I had gone back? Tears well up in my eyes. I haven’t seen where I’m at. I don’t need to. I’ve seen Him. He was what I was searching for. He is the prize.