The crispness of the air after rainfall has a way of piercing lungs while running. The water’s remnants on the cement burn an aroma of freshness into my nostrils; my skin tingles with chill as I run hard into the wind; and yet, the perfection of the moment makes me close my eyes and whisper thanks. Thank you for the biting cold. Thank you for the newness of rain. Thank you for the moment of living that penetrates through my bones each time a foot meets the earth hard, only to be quickly lifted in continued motion. And as I grow weary of running, my chest heaving, my legs, aching, I know that I can’t stop. To stop now would be a waste of the past half mile. Just get to the corner. Just get to the destination.
I press onward.
Survival: this is how we often bear trials. A white-knuckling way of life to get through testing times. This won’t last forever, so I will just set my soul to sleep during it. I won’t miss much: just the pains of today. And tomorrow, when I see the sun rise, I will, too; and this will all be behind me. The pains of today often seem too big to bear, so we let ourselves sleep in the furnace, until the heat of the moment subsides.
We see the destination, and the mountain between there and here, and look for a road that leads us around.
Walk up to the mountain. Touch the earth that it is mounded with. You’ll notice the dirt is the same as that of the flat land.
And start walking. Placing one step in front of the other. With each step, the fear of the mountain will slip away.
Start walking up the mountain. The road that goes around will not lead to the desired destination. The only way to go is towards the mountain.
We press onward.
I press onward.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own…forgetting what is behind and straining forward for what lies ahead, I press onward toward the call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:12-14]
And as my run’s goal rests straight ahead for my eyes to see, I instantly grow more faint; the burning that comes with each breath begins to become unbearable, my stomach drops with each foot on the concrete. Hard. But I must press on. The goal is right there. I must press on.
And the more pressing moments that approach in life, the more tempting it is to flee-to find a bend in the road, an escape route. But we must lean into those pressing moments.
We must feel the wind’s resisting blow. We must lean into the mountain before us. So often, I believe what keeps our gaze unfaithfully turned back, like Lot’s wife, is not the desire for the old times, but more so, the fear of pressing onward. To press onward means walking blindly; it means pushing forward through hard winds and cold rains, without retreating to the shelter that lies miles earlier into the journey. Our destination is near, and our goal, the upward call of Christ, becomes sweeter with every step we take towards it.
To overcome, we must experience the pressing, the resistance, and in this, the healing springs forth.
And in this pressing moment, a moment of sweat on my brow and hard breathing on my lips, I sing: