If All of Life Was Downhill

The other day I had an unusual revelation as I stopped and filled up with gas as I was traveling to an engagement. With my tank filled I pulled out onto the highway and reset my odometer. My vehicle keeps up with miles per gallon and so I was resetting the vehicle to keep up with the average miles per gallon that I got as I traveled. After setting it on zero I was traveling downhill for a long period of time maybe a half mile, maybe a quarter of a mile, but I just happened to be watching that number as I traveled downhill and did not need to give the car any gas. The average miles per gallon went from 15 to 20, 35 to 40, 50, 60, 75, 80, 90, 99.9 miles per gallon. I thought to myself that is some powerful gasoline I just got. 99.9 miles per gallon is as high as the car computes, but it was not because of the gasoline I had just bought but because I was going downhill all the way. It suddenly occurred to me that if all the roads that I traveled on were downhill, I probably would never have to buy any more gas. Then I thought what a great idea for the government to embrace and tell engineers only to design roads that go downhill so that people will not have to buy gasoline, pollute the air, and truly the whole world could be green I guess. It’s a silly thought but it passed through my brain. The problem is all of life is not downhill. Within four or five miles the average that it jumped up to 99.9 miles per gallon had come back down and was again in the mid-20 range.

There is a principle of truth that needs to be kept in mind that all of us could learn from and that is when life goes up the mountain, when our living experiences get rough, when the tough days of life seem to mount up it calls for more and more of our energy and our reserves and in fact it is not easy. Do we want life to be easy? I guess at certain times all of us would answer and say, “Well, yes.” Or at least easier than we have it right now or easier than the really tough days. It sure would help, but then on the other hand, there are no great achievements, no high mountains scaled or heavenly adventures taken that do not require a great deal from whoever we may be. Life is not easy. To get anywhere, to accomplish anything, to make it up the mountains of life is going to require some expenditure of energy, resources, time, and commitment. It is true in every arena of life.

It is true professionally. Through the years I have known of some people who seemed to be tremendously gifted by God with intellectual capacity. They can see something written and they’ve got it. Hear something and it is theirs forever. But while learning comes easy, they also learn that they can not apply themselves and get along okay. So they march off into life not giving their best – their best effort, their greatest commitment or a bulldog determination. They had so much that they could be slouchy or slothful and get by, in fact do well for a while at least. And then one day they find themselves competing in life with people who are not as sharp as they are but they worked hard and applied themselves. Maybe they find themselves surrounded by people who are not as gifted and certainly not as smart, but they gave what some people might describe as 110% and now they are excelling.

The reality is, and dramatically demonstrated as I rolled down that hill and had great miles per gallon average, you cannot coast in life. There will be mountains to climb. The same is true not only professionally but personally. If you spend most of your life eating out of other folks’ dishes with a silver spoon, one day there will be a shocking awakening. You may have known some of these folks, men and women, who rolled down life’s hillside to the point where they felt entitled to everything. At times there may have been people around them who felt they were entitled also, parents or supporters or promoters, but for everyone there will come a day when you stand at a place and at a time when you face the difficult slopes that must be climbed and the hard days that cannot be escaped and you may not know where to turn.

Jesus did not have life easy and on a silver platter but even so He came to one of those moments where life was a crushing experience there in the garden. He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He was willing but He was also able to embrace life’s hardest struggle by trusting in the Father. You and I can also.

I can assure you that there are personal times when you will be empty of all of the power resources you ever knew except for the Lord Himself, and while you may not feel like you can go one step more uphill, He will be there to lift you up and take you another step and another and another. His reserves never run dry. May you have some wonderful days when the landscape of your life has some long, downhill coasting moments. But when you start back up the mountain and you are tired and almost empty, trust God and He will fill you and lift you and love you every moment of the way.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer