When I was in grad school I often felt like I was climbing up hill. Alone.
By that time I was married with two small children and commuting about 600 miles (round trip) every week. Yeah, it was crazy. A few days each week I would sit in an empty apartment surrounded by books and papers, searching out the mysteries of some scholarly work, attempting to interpret some scholarly idea or—harder still—endeavoring to produce something scholarly myself!
Most of the time I was just climbing up hill.
There were smart people all around me. The students in my program were self-assured and articulate. They spoke eloquently about books I hadn’t read yet and professionals in our field whose names I was still learning. I liked being around them, though. My hope was that their intelligence would rub off! So I smiled and nodded as the conversations swirled.
In the car rides to school–during the long stretches of country road where there were few other cars besides mine–I would sneak peaks at the article I had yet to finish reading for class. On the return trips home, I would mentally calculate how many hours I would have between the kids, the hubby and the home duties to complete writing and reading tasks before the next return trip.
Often the hill was steep.
Then that glorious time came when classes were completed–only exams and dissertation remained! Ah, but don’t be fooled by the “only” in that sentence. It was yet another mountain. Just when I could see the summit coming into view, the unthinkable happened. I failed one of my qualifying exams. My momentum halted. I began sliding straight down that hill. I thought I was done.
But, there were people around me who wouldn’t let me quit. Two in particular—my husband and my advisor. They made me look at that failure as a place to begin rather than end. I had been so focused on pushing up that hill and getting to the top that I had actually missed some things along the way. I needed to go back and take a closer look. I had to slow down and think about each step. The journey was not just about the destination, there were some points along the way that I could only appreciate if I moved slowly and pondered them a little longer. My failure pushed me to the apex of another mountain and once I pushed past the fog of disappointment, I was able to see my journey with fresh eyes.
And so, in spite of the setback, I kept climbing.
What I love about this verse in Habakkuk is that it says He’ll give me strength to climb “my hills” which implies that He is interested in my personal situation. It means He knows what I need for the particular journey that I am on. So, even when I feel like I’m unfit for the task at hand, even when I feel like I’m all alone, or it seems that I’m the only one in the room who doesn’t have a clue, this verse says He’s giving me strength to walk on “my high hills”–He’s telling me to take ownership of that mountain! To claim it as my territory and walk on it with all the power and might that He’s given me!
You know what that’s like? It’s like putting on the power suit and pumps and stepping out with full confidence that regardless of whatever failures you suffered yesterday, today is a new day and today you’re walking on your hills, You can do it with confidence because He’s got your back! He’s not going to let you quit. He knows this climb is rough, but there are some lessons along the way He wants you to learn so He’s made your feet like “deer’s feet”—deer step light and leap gracefully over boundaries. God says do likewise. Strap on your high heels and take to the high hills–He’s got your back!