Sunday, July 7, 2013

Leaning In

My main form of exercise is walking and always has been. I nearly always walked to school when I was growing up.

Even though I grew up in the Midwest where the land is mostly flat, my hometown had a few gentle hills and inclines because it was a river town.

I can still recall several paths to and from the different schools I attended. One was downhill going to school and uphill coming home. The following year I was transferred to a new school, but it was uphill going and downhill coming.

My final two years of high school took place on a different campus than the first two years. The good news was that it was closer to my home, but the bad news was that the school was built on top of a hill. The hill at this school had such a steep and grassy slope that it is considered the prime spot for sledding during the winter months. That hill stood between my house and the school.

I could have taken another route which would have not been so steep, but it would have taken much longer. So, the first few days I walked up that hill and was ever-so glad when I reached the top. It wasn't long before I was climbing that hill with less effort. Within several weeks I realized how easily and quickly I made it up that hill!

One of the tricks to walking up a steep hill is to lean in. By leaning forward as you move up the hill, it helps with your center of gravity by providing balance. If you lean too far forward or lean too far back, you might strain muscles in your back. Now, I don't have any scientific proof of this, but I think leaning in helps move me up the hill easier and faster than standing straight.

source: Pinterest
Leaning in is also a technique we use when a strong wind is blowing. If you've ever been caught outdoors on a very windy day, in order to walk against the wind you must lean into it.

You probably know where I'm going with this. When life takes a turn up that steep hill or we feel that sudden strong wind, we need to lean in.

We lean in to Jesus to give us the strength we need to keep going, to stay balanced, to endure. Leaning in also helps us stand firm against the Enemy. He's always trying to knock us down.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to
stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 
- Ephesians 6:10-11

Hard times make us stronger and prepare us for the next battle (because there will be another battle). Just like my walk up that hill to school, if we keep leaning in to Jesus, we'll gain endurance so that the next time we must walk up a hill, it might not be quite as difficult.

Be a hill seeker and not a hill avoider.

As I was preparing this post, I ran across a blog article which is closely related to this topic. I really like how this quote fit with what I was writing about. I share this quote below and a link to the full article at

"We like to think of our spiritual lives as a 
steady climb up a predictable hill. 
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other 
and eventually we will summit, having “arrived” 
at the apex of what it means to follow Christ. 

But the reality is there will be very high highs,
often followed by very low lows. God is God, 
and we are called to be faithful at both elevations."

I just couldn't close this without sharing a verse from this great old hymn...

        Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
        Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

        O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
        Leaning on the everlasting arms;
        O how bright the path grows from day to day,
        Leaning on the everlasting arms.

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