A few weeks ago, Beth and I were able to go visit close friends in the mountains of North Carolina.  Seriously…their cabin was snuggled in right next to the foot of Mt. Mitchell and right beside a beautiful mountain creek.  There were some sights to be seen.  I left on Sunday morning to go on one of my training runs.

Quick Fact:  Apparently, running in higher altitude is harder than at sea level.  And…who would have thought!…running on hills is harder than flat terrain.

So I head down-hill from their cabin and feel great.  The air is cool, the scenery is beautiful, and I’m hoofing it “chariots of fire” style down the road.
I make my way to the turn-around point and start heading back the way I came.

Then I realize…I have to go back up the road I just ran down.

As I plod my way back up the road, the sun seems to be getting hotter in 10 degree increments and the trees providing shade seem to have all been removed since I last came this way.  It keeps getting harder and harder.  Instead of thinking about life and enjoying the run, my eyes are locked on the road and I’m focused on getting back.

Then it hits me.  As I miserably make my way back up the mountain with my eyes locked on the road, I’m missing some pretty amazing views.  In fact, it’s on the way back up the mountain that you get the best view of the mountain.  Although it was shielded in clouds when I descended, it is clear and beautiful on my way back up.

But I’m missing it all…because I’m looking at asphalt and yellow-stripes painted on the road.  I needed to lift my head and see the beauty around me.  I needed to see the unmoving mountain covered in maple, oak, ash, and pine…painted with the hues of Autumn.  While this didn’t take away the pain, it definitely put it in a new light.

In that moment, God showed me something I needed to see.  Sometimes, it’s in the midst of difficult and painful journeys that God shows us the most beautiful things and reveals Himself in new ways.  But we sometimes miss what God is doing and showing us because our eyes are focused on the road under us rather than on the mountains around us.

Our current journey has been somewhat difficult (not even close to the pain that many other Christians experience…but difficult nonetheless).  I have been searching for a new full-time job and trying to figure out what God has next for Beth and I in Columbus (while we continue to serve Cross City).  After 5 months of searching, it’s easy for my eyes to drift towards the road and just be focused on getting to my destination.  Thankfully, God has graciously helped me to lift up my eyes and see the beauty and mountains around me.  This doesn’t take the difficulty of my journey away, but it definitely changes how I view it.

Sometimes it’s in the painful and difficult journeys that God shows us the most beauty and hope.

Lift up your eyes!  Take your eyes off the road!

I think this is what the Israelites were thinking when they traveled on the long and difficult roads to Jerusalem and sang:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2, ESV)

Are you on a difficult road right now?  Look up and don’t miss what God is going to show you!