Thursday, March 13, 2014

Crossing the Plains

I've been going through, not a rough spell, but a frustrating spell recently.  It's nothing in particular, but everything in general.  And compared to people who are genuinely suffering around the world through no fault of their own, I really don't have anything to complain about.  But nevertheless, I've just kind of been waking up, getting on with stuff, and surviving, rather than thriving.  Going through the motions might be the way some would describe it.  I'm not proud of this.  It's not what I would consider ideal, but the reality is, sometimes we go through moments like these, particularly if we are seeking to live lives of faith.

For new believers who might have been "on fire" when they first came to Christ, a lull in their spiritual life might cause them to question whether they ever believed in the first place.  But for those of us who have been at this for a while, we realize that these moments, or seasons, are part and parcel to living lives in the kingdom.  For every peak, there's a valley, with a good few plains in between.  And it's the plains that might be the most difficult to understand.  When we are in a valley, when we are going through desperate times, it often forces us to hit our knees, lift up our eyes to our Father and focus on what's really important.  We might suffer greatly during these periods as we long to get out of the valley.  And even though we might struggle with belief, once we begin the journey back up, our faith often feels as if it's never been stronger.  When we experience those mountain top highs, it's easy to do the right thing, to feel the right way, and to be the kind of people we believe God created us to be.  It feels so natural, as if our spirituality was encoded in our DNA.

But what about the moments in life when we are neither on the top of a mountain nor walking through the valley of death?  What about those moments when we're out on the plains?  When we're struggling to see anything on the horizon?  Life isn't bad and the walk isn't painful, it's just flat - like a soda without carbonation.  Maybe the worst we can say is that's it's a little bit boring.  What do we do when we find ourselves crossing the plains?  To quote Matthew McConaughey, we "just keep livin'".  We fake it 'till we make it.  We keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that though there's seemingly nothing on the other side of the horizon, we will eventually get back to more enjoyable, though not necessarily easier terrain.  To quote the apostle Paul, we "press on".

I've been crossing the plains for a while now.  I'm not even sure when I left the mountains and the valleys.  I can't remember when I journeyed out of the forest and left the hill country behind.  But for some time now, I've been walking through a barren and flat landscape.  But like traveling through Eastern New Mexico when the flatlands of the Llano Estacado begin to dip and buckle and you can see the outline of the Rocky Mountains on the horizon, I feel as though I'm beginning to move into interesting landscapes.  But even if what I see out in the distance is merely a mirage, I'll just keep livin'.  Besides, there's a lot to be learned out on the plains if we're willing to take the time to notice. - Shay             

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