While on vacation in Colorado, I work up early for a hike. The 3-mile trail ran to the peak of Beaver Creek Mountain. At the base, signs said it should take about three hours to reach the top. The trail was extremely steep. The altitude at the base was 8,000 feet above sea level. The peak is at more than 11,000 feet. Just walking up the first set of stairs, I began breathing heavier than normal. At home in Houston, I run several miles a few times a week and play a lot of basketball. But the elevation there is only 50 feet above sea level. The thinner air in the Colorado had me doubting whether I could make it to the top.
Determined, I set a pretty good pace. The first 15 minutes seemed fairly easy. The next 15 minutes were increasingly difficult. I had to stop every so often to catch my breath. As I climbed over a big ridge, I had to stop for air. Sweat was pouring off my body. I thought: If there are another two hours like this, I don’t know if I can make it. Up to that point, I had not seen anyone else on the path. Suddenly, an older gentleman heading down the mountain came around the curve. He wore a T-shirt, shorts and hiking shoes and carried a walking stick. He seemed cool and calm. And he read me pretty well.
Words of Encouragement
As we passed, he said something that changed my whole perspective. He smiled kindly and said in a calm voice “You are closer than you think.” Hearing those words, I felt rejuvenated, as if he’d breathed new life into my lungs. Energy surged through my body. My legs grew stronger. I caught a second wind. From that point forward, with every stride, I repeated these words of encouragement: “I will make it. I’m closer than I think.” Though the climb was difficult, though my muscles and lungs were burning, I kept saying, “I’m almost to the top. I know I can make it.” And, sure enough, just 10 minutes later, I clambered over these big boulders and beheld a beautiful sight: the summit. According to the sign at the base, it was supposed to be a three-hour hike. But I made it in just under an hour!
Until I met the older hiker, my perspective was limited, and so was my thinking. I knew only what I’d read on the sign. He knew I was just 10 minutes from my goal, and when he told me I was close, he gave me a fresh perspective. He knew more about the trail ahead of me, just as God knows more about what lies ahead for you. I don’t know where you’re headed, what your dreams are or how many obstacles you have to overcome. But I urge you to let these words reach deep down into your spirit. Receive them by faith.
God wants to breathe new life into your dreams. He wants to breathe new hope into your heart. You may be about to give up on a marriage, a troubled child, on a lifelong goal. But God wants you to hold on. He says that if you get your second wind, if you’ll put on a new attitude and press forward like you’re headed down the final stretch, you’ll see Him begin to do amazing things. Don’t let doubters ruin your optimistic spirit. I’m a prisoner of hope. I can’t get away from it. I just can’t make myself get negative. I just can’t make myself complain. Hope feeds my faith and lifts my spirits.”
Whenever life grows difficult and the pressure is turning up, that’s a sign that your time is near. When lies bombard your mind, when you’re tempted to get discouraged, and when you feel like throwing in the towel —- that’s not the time to give up. That’s not the time to back down. That’s the time to dig in your heels. Times may grow tough, but remember there are rewards for staying in faith. Put on a new attitude. You are closer than you think.
Excerpt by Joel Osteen