Awhile back we had some guests come and stay for a few days. While Brian was at work and Daniel was at school, they went hiking in our beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. As I stayed home with Hope, a deep sadness filled the air around me. I went out back and sat on the porch, remembering.
I used to love hiking, especially in the mountains in North Carolina. There's one mountain especially, Mount Pisgah, that was my favorite. After a drive most of the way up the mountain, you can hike a trail right up to the top, then enjoy a panoramic view of mountains in every direction. I've hiked it from childhood to adulthood (my Grandparents lived in Asheville and one of the great things about visiting them was getting outdoors in those amazing mountains).
It hadn't really hit me until that day: hiking is something I will likely never be able to do again. Not really.
I had thought of the fact that I couldn't go hiking right now, or even in the near future. But to face the fact of that awful word NEVER was difficult. To never get to hike again? Ever?
In case you're wondering, at this point, I can walk about a quarter mile to half mile, if it is the right time of day, I have the right food for all necessary times, and nothing strenuous is happening the rest of the day (or something like that). Sometimes I feel like such a wimp!
For a moment, self-pity neared. It felt so unfair. Why was I being punished with this limitation, something I loved to do, something my family would enjoy, something that was good and healthy? I guess this is how older people feel about the encroaching age limitations on their bodies. Inside, they still love the same things, but their bodies just won't keep up.
I knew having a pity party was not the right reaction to this new realization of never being able to hike again. So I took my feelings to the Lord. He says He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalm 62:8). I didn't hold back--I told God how much of a loss it felt to have to give up this thing that I used to enjoy so much. I told Him how unfair it felt.
And in response, God did not reprimand me for my feelings. He did not tell me He'd come around once I changed my perspective. No, I felt held within His strong, everlasting arms, and His still small voice whispered a truth that was the key to helping me change my perspective.
I may never be able to go hiking the rest of my life, but this life is not the end. Eternity is much, much longer than this life. And God says I will have a new, glorified body, one that is not limited by sickness or disease.
I will have all eternity to go hiking in God's beautiful new world. So rather than imagining all I will miss out on over the next years, I can look forward to all I will enjoy throughout all eternity!
I still miss hiking. I still want to feel sad about it when others get to enjoy what I can't.
However . . . now I can counter those feelings with God's beautiful truth--this life, with it's disappointments and sorrows and limitations, is not all there is. After all, God wants us to set our affections on things above, not on the things of the earth (Col. 3:2). Disappointments in this life help us to remember the goodness waiting ahead.
So, even if I never get "better," I'm still really looking forward to hiking again!