By MARY GEISEN
I love hiking. The beauty and opportunity to explore new paths create a way for my sense of adventure to grow. You will often find me hiking local trails with camera in hand and earbuds in my ears playing my favorite music or podcast. Most of the time, I venture out on my own, but on this particular day, my son hiked with me. There was nothing unusual along the route we chose until up ahead, we spied a swinging bridge. I hesitated at the idea of crossing the bridge because my steadiness would be tested. The words “Stand Firm” filled my mind.
My son kept up the pace and did not pause as he approached the bridge. I, on the other hand, took a deep breath and repeated the words “stand firm” as I took my first steps forward onto the bridge. My first instinct was to grab the side rails (loose term for thin wire supports) and keep my eyes focused on the other side. Once I learned the rhythm of the bridge, my feet moved steady and sure.
There are many times throughout my life when the call to stand firm has echoed loudly as I faced new challenges. Raising two sons – stand firm. Becoming a single mom – stand firm. Losing my mom and dad –stand firm. Facing the loss of a job and gaining another – stand firm. In many ways, those two words have become my mantra, my battle cry, my reminder that I am okay because God provides the foundation in order for me to stand firm.
The call to stand firm begins with Moses as he reminds the Israelites to not be afraid and stand firm. (Exodus 14:13). The same words are part of Job’s story as he faces multiple challenges and holds fast to his faith. (Job 11:15) David proclaims the love of the Lord, his plans, and the righteous will stand firm throughout the Psalms. Finally, in Ephesians 6, we are called to put on the armor of God. This is the protection we need when faced with our own challenges.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT The saying goes, “Life is what you make it.” If your life is anything like mine has been, I would argue that some of my own personal challenges did not involve choices I made. Instead, the choices came afterward as I decided to stand firm and trust God with the outcome or fall apart because everything seemed too overwhelming.
Think about those times in your life that you have made the choice to stand firm or choose an alternate route. What helped you to be successful at that moment? Who are your people that stand by your side no matter what? Do you believe God is always present, especially in the times when life is not what you imagined?
If you find it hard to answer the questions above, take some time to dig into each question. Focus on one of your biggest struggles and recall the what and who that helped you get to the other side. If you are still in the middle of a personal challenge, what is one step you can take today to help you to move forward? List your people and don’t be afraid to reach out to them for help. You have the ability to stand firm because God is by your side and wants nothing more than to be your strength and hope.
PRAYER Heavenly Father — Today I struggle to remember that You are who You say and that You are always with me. Life feels overwhelming and causes my focus to shift from You to everything else. I find that in these moments, I need You more than ever and ask today that You make known Your presence as I fight against the challenges I am facing. As I call upon Your Name, I ask for You to open my ears to hear, my eyes to see, and my heart to receive the strength You have waiting for me. I know Your goodness and kindness reign all the days of my life. May I begin each day with praise on my lips for the gifts You provide no matter what comes my way. Thank You for Your endless love and grace. I pray this in the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen.