This blog brought to you by Paul and Tara Dye, friends of our ministry.
My husband and I love to hike. We enjoy taking in the great outdoors with all of our senses. Seeing the trees and flowers all around. Feeling the solid earth beneath our feet. Smelling the scents of honeysuckle or pine. Hearing the gentle rush of a nearby stream. We enjoy pushing our physical limits up steep hills in order to experience the majestic views from up high, breathing in the fresh air and simply being together. All of trails we explore offer variety that quenches our curiosity thirst.
The Early Days
The very early days of our relationship began with a few long treks. Without a doubt we would openly share our thoughts, hopes for the future, and our faith in the Lord. The trails we chose seemed to lay a firm foundation that would help us through our first trial as a couple.
We were married in our mid-thirties and had never really known financial hardship as singles. Additionally, we both had good jobs, savings accounts, and believed the world was at our fingertips. Newly married in June of 2006 and excitedly welcoming our first child into the world the following summer, we had every reason to believe that our dreams were all coming true. But soon, we, like so many, found ourselves racing full steam ahead into the housing crash of 2008.
Our hopes were quickly swallowed by a job loss and a mortgage way too big to pay. Big bills were like thorny shrubs cutting into our savings and boulders bruising our pride. The mountain of debt ahead of us was not majestic in any way. A second baby boy came along and we wondered how we would pay for more diapers. It was truly a challenge to find JOY. It seemed to be playing a game of hide and seek and was incredibly good at the hiding part.
GROWing, not just GOing
There were countless nights spent on our knees begging the Lord to help us find solid footing on our unsteady path. Our Bible readings often brought us to Psalm 55:22 - “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” - and Romans 8:28 - “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We knew our love for the Lord and each other was strong, so our prayers were for wisdom and endurance. “I’m asking the Lord to help us GROW through this, not just GO through it,” my husband would often say. We were determined to learn from this trial by drawing closer to Him as we felt the heat from the fires of refinement.
God in His beautiful mercy helped us find the path that led to JOY. Our Life Group prayed over us and spoke Isaiah 40:31 over us, reminding us that He would give us strength as we waited patiently for Him to move. Friends and family took care of many basic needs, and a woman from my Bible study, whom I barely knew, gave me a check one day after class saying, “Our family has been blessed. We want to be a blessing to you too.”
Those acts of unexpected kindness around each bend kept Paul and I directly on the trail toward Christ. We realized how much JOY our Father had for us, and it came pouring into our hearts like a rushing waterfall! Our times of sweet prayer and complete desperation for Him drew us into a closeness that money couldn’t buy.
Hills and Valleys
The trial was a lesson in endurance and trust. It was several years before we saw some light on the path. We weren’t always joyful, but the Lord was always faithful, trustworthy and constant. God will place each of us on adventurous trails. He will lead us to places of complete reliance on Him. Some days you may feel like you’re pushing boulders uphill both ways. Other days may find you coasting on a smooth, flat surface.
That is life.
There are always going to be hills and valleys.
How we approach the trail…or the trial…makes all the difference. Can we learn to view trials simply as trails we must cover on our journeys toward further sanctification? He will show us how to find joy first, by delighting in Him, and second, by delighting in simple things - a toddler’s giggles, an unexpected visit from a friend, a roof over our heads, a mountain top sunset, family and friends who love us. Our lives can be full of joy if we choose to be full of Jesus!