Retired educator Margie Bowen has climbed Stone Mountain over 1,000 times.
The Atlanta resident started climbing Stone Mountain east of Atlanta for exercise, but as she climbed several times each week, she kept count. Eventually, she reached the hundreds, and on New Year’s Eve ten years ago, former students and several family members joined her as she reached the 500 mark.
She climbed 300 times in 2016. By May 2018, she reached 1,000 climbs. When she initially started her treks, she told herself she would climb the mountain 20 times that summer. She ended up tackling the largest piece of exposed granite in the world 100 times.
How did she do it? She started and stayed at it. She didn’t quit. Weather didn’t deter her. She had “want-to,” and then she made that first one. Every climb started with a first step, and then she kept putting one foot in front of the other until she reached the top. Then one climb led to another.
God wants us to keep climbing, also.
Our challenge is to rise to new spiritual heights and contributing to that progression is walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). How do we climb spiritually?
First, we walk. Walking is a biblical image of our relationship with God. What did the Old Testament writer say about Enoch? Two different times in Genesis 5:22-24, we see “Enoch walked with God.”
One translation says that Enoch walked faithfully with God (NIV). Another translates, “Enoch walked habitually with God” (Young’s Literal Translation). Deep fellowship and meaningful conversation characterized his relationship with God.
God values the time we spend with Him and the priority we give to Him. He doesn’t want to be an add-on to our lives, nor a Sunday novelty. He wants fellowship with us daily.
When I drive up and down the road near our subdivision, I notice joggers and walkers using the running path. Often, two people run or walk together. Many times, two ladies walk along, and you can tell they are in deep conversation, sometimes expressing themselves using hand gestures.
Maybe you have a friend you enjoy walking and visiting with. That’s a picture of what God wants as we walk with Him. He wants us to enjoy His company as we live out each day.
Second, we walk by faith. Walking by faith means living in a way that demonstrates we possess full confidence in God, His promises, and His ability to do what He says He will do.
What does walking by faith look like?
• We center our lives around God, not ourselves, constantly attacking selfishness.
• Our outlook is positive. Because we trust God completely, we avoid a negative outlook.
• We live with His peace in a stressful world.
• Through studying His Word, we develop a spiritual perspective, always watching for where God is working.
• We strive to live godly lives rather than worldly lives.
• We pray as a lifestyle of continuous communication.
• We place Jesus first in our lives.
• We believe even when we cannot see.
I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a church member who died in February. I was receiving treatments for my third round of cancer and was in a fierce fight. This dear senior lady asked, “David, do you have faith?”
I like to think I have faith. I’ve preached on faith, written a book about faith, and studied faith. I said, “Yes, I have faith.”
She said, “I’ve asked God to heal you. I believe you are going to be completely healed. Do you believe that?”
I’m thinking, “I surely hope so,” but I said, “Yes, I do.”
She said, “The Bible says to pray in faith believing, and I’ve prayed that God will heal you. I don’t have to keep going back because I’ve given you to Him and I believe He’s going to heal you. You’re a miracle.”
On a Tuesday morning, her son texted that Virginia decided to remove her oxygen. I went to visit, and after we greeted each other, she said, “You’re my miracle.”
God did bring me through this battle. After finishing treatments and having follow-up biopsies, I went to see the doctor and he said, “Your biopsies came back negative. I pronounce you clear!”
Virginia believed what she could not physically see. That’s faith!
Do we walk by faith or by sight?
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more information and to view online options. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings.]