We love check-up calls from our friends. A friend called just a week ago to see how everything is progressing with our fundraising.
“It’s really great,” I said. Then I went on to tell him we have just about reached the 50% funded level on our Outgoing expenses.
“That’s awesome, man!” he was genuinely excited about what he was hearing. And I was happy to offer information that would excite him not only as a friend but the very first person to commit to supporting us monthly.
A year ago I asked him awkwardly to consider partnering with us in that way. A short time later he messaged me and actually offered to commit to more than I asked for. Then, he told me why he made that decision.
We had worked together once upon a time on a groundskeeping crew at a Christian camp. He had already worked there for years and I was hired on by another friend who knew I needed a job. I didn’t want to be a groundskeeper. I wanted to be a camp counselor. Someone in the office not perspiring. But I went with it out of necessity.
I wasn’t a good groundskeeper, really. But this was what I was telling myself. My attitude wasn’t good. My skills weren’t good. I thought when I left that job I couldn’t have left a mark at all. My friend Jonboy (the consummate handy guy) and I were on opposite poles.
But, when he committed to supporting us monthly he said, “I’m doing this because while you were a lousy groundskeeper I watched you share the love of Christ one day to a group of college students. You were just a natural. I was amazed.” That blew me away. First of all, Jonboy is a man of very few words. And secondly, he was telling me I had made a mark on him. The very guy who for all intents and purposes was my opposite.
Well, last week we were talking about where we stand with our fundraising. I told him we were at the halfway mark and he said something that I agreed with at the time but since have found some humor and wisdom in as I keep chewing.
He said, “It’s all downhill from here!”
In the moment that image excited me a lot. Ah, the feeling of coasting downhill as the wind rushes past you. Accelerating toward the finish line with the assurance of knowing your legs won’t hurt anymore through the burn of pedaling upward. The mind is more convinced the journey can be accomplished as it approaches the ascent downward. No more heave-ho. Clamp yourself to your seat and brace yourself for the ride down. That sounds so exciting!
But then I searched the word “downhill” on Google image and found the featured pic. It’s actually genius because it could be us (that would mean we are on the same bike…eeeek!!). It could be you. I must say it’s absolutely beautiful. Rock walls on both sides, a clear blue horizon peeking through trees, a green descent into the unknown. Sounds like an adventure.
My friend Jonboy would likely climb on a bike like this before I would. I see him living comfortably in a place like this. And, handling himself quite well on the way down. But us? We’ve never done this before. In fact, I meant to write a blog post about that very reality. We have never done most of what we are currently doing before. So, if this is us on the bike, what this still shot doesn’t show you is the violent shaking all the way down.
If by “downhill” my friend meant “a piece of cake” then I’d have to chuckle and disagree. Everyone who has been coaching us tells us the work on the second half of fundraising can feel harder and require even greater faith. The second half may feel slower. It may require that we widen our circles and “make the ask” of people we don’t yet know. That feels like uphill to be honest. Not easy at all. Something harder than this introvert has ever done.
But I think my friend did not mean it would be easy from here on out. I know him and he meant something like what I see in this pic. Likely, it will be what I am beginning to experience and even more: a rugged descent for the first time into a wild, unpredictable, captivating, breathtaking, heart-racing, faith-stretching ride. Something that I look upon from my bike and get several emotions at once. Something that calls me forward but also pushes me back in doubt. A trail that falls and winds in ways I’ve never seen.
So with that in mind, perhaps it truly is all downhill from here. But I wonder even still what’s waiting at the bottom. I guess we find that out when we get there.
Does this speak to your experience at all? Do you see yourself on this bike and feel something close to what we feel? God is in it. He shows us in these downhill rides what He intended for us all to experience. Look at this promise in Isaiah 45:3…
“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
Breathtaking. This promise from God. The dark places are the falls and turns downward as we follow the trail. The secret treasures are things about Him we didn’t know before climbing on the bike. And look at why He does it all, “…so that you may know that I am the Lord”. That’s a good reason to go downhill. And then he caps it off by saying just how much he loves you. He calls you “by name”. Imagine making that fall down and hearing God whisper your name. He’s there.
So I agree with my friend. Yes, it is all downhill from here 🙂