II Timothy 4:7–I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Imagine you are walking through a lush green valley. As far as you can see in any direction is tall, waving green grass and colorful flowers that nod their dainty little heads in the wind as you pass. There is a clear creek babbling and blue sky overhead. Puffy white clouds amble by. You are content…then suddenly before you rises up an enormous cliff, the sheer face of which you can see no end. You can’t turn around and go back…behind you is the past and you can’t revisit time. Looking up the cliff makes you dizzy. It’s too high! It’s too scary! It’s too hard! You look around once more. It is so calm and peaceful here at the base. The sun is shining on you, but there is ample shade too. The breeze is blowing gently. You could probably get by munching on plants and catching small fish from the stream. But you aren’t going to thrive. You could sit down and stay here for a while, pausing in your journey, but what is above you? Are you going to scale the cliff? Because above you is all the sustenance you need. It will take everything you have to reach the top. You’re going to skin your knees and bruise your knuckles. You’re going to be exhausted and worn through and through if you can reach the top. But, once you reach the top, there is a valley like you’ve never seen; food in abundance, more nourishment than you can imagine, more beauty than ever before.
So, you climb. It is arduous and painful. It is time-consuming. Your body is aching and tired. But the summit is reached! And now you are walking in this bright new valley, even more beautiful than the last. Maybe there will be another mountain, but it won’t seem so impassable, so immense, so intimidating…because you already know how to climb.