But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.Daniel 1:8
In 2019, my friend talked with me about hiking the Grand Canyon and I casually told him then that I thought it would be cool to do it, not actually meaning that I wanted to do it. He took my comment seriously, and he invited me to hike the canyon with him. I did not prepare like I should, but my younger self caught a second wind and finished the climb out in a strong way. A few years later, we talked about the hike again with no real planning. In late summer, my friend once again reached out to me and “reminded me” of the dates of the hike, even though I do not remember committing to do it again. I could have possibly put in the very back of my head, but I have a good memory and I don’t believe he asked me but just assumed I was going. He had two other friends back out, so the hike would be just him and me. Everyone thinks it is a great idea to hike the Grand Canyon until it comes up and suddenly they have other plans. I did not want to bail on my friend, so I agreed to it and assumed I would simply push through like the last time.
Age is funny this way. Something you did four years prior is not the same as you doing it now. Prior to my second hike, I was running and such, but it has been said I have a runner’s heart with a jogger’s body. We set off on the hike and the weather was beautiful, although it seemed a lot nicer on the descent as opposed to the ascent. The Grand Canyon is unique in that way as going down is hard on your body, but it pales in comparison to the climb out of the canyon for which everyone must pay their dues to get out. I felt okay on the descent, and although my muscles were jarred and sore, they were still working fine. On the ascent, the sun shone hot on us and I was dripping sweat like a real athlete, minus the skill. I was sweating profusely as I climbed the seven miles to get out. My electrolytes were depleted and my body began to betray me.
My muscles started to cramp and my legs began to tingle. We reached a mile marker and my mind raced to imagine how I was going to go the next 4.5 miles uphill. I knew I had no choice but to push through the pain and cramps and press on to the top. My sole purpose was to get out of the canyon, and I was determined to get out before the sun set on me. I asked God several times to help me when the cramps flared and my legs burned with exhaustion. Every step became dreadful and as I kept looking up and it seemed no matter how much I pushed, the top seemed so far away. I began to move with purpose, calculating my steps to alleviate the areas that were cramping and filling my mouth with sunflower seeds, desperately hoping the salt would stave off the cramps in my legs. The thing about the canyon is that once you reach the bottom, the next purpose and goal is to get out in one piece and make it to the top. I made it out in one piece by the grace of God, and I was exhausted and depleted like I had never been before. As I exited my torture chamber, the finish line yielded a surprise I did not experience the first time I hiked the Grand Canyon.
My friend and I heard cheers as we made our way up and realized they were people at the top who were cheering for those who completed the hike. I have to say this motivated me and it put a little pep in my step as I pushed to finish. We made it to the top and we were showered with cheers, which made me feel good and put a smile on my salt-drenched face. I was proud of the fact that I finished this hike amidst the struggle and physical pain, and it reminded me of a parallel in the spiritual life.
I reflected on the trials and hardships of life and how it seems hard and difficult to live for God and make right decisions. It seems it is just easier to quit and give in to temptation, but I must purpose in my heart like Daniel did to be focused on the goal and purpose of life. I was not created to fulfill my own desires and dreams, but I was created to glorify my Father. I must make a choice to not defile myself with the love of this world, and I must purpose to live for Him. I think of those who cheered and it reminds me of those who pray for us and our own heavenly Father who prays for us as well. I think of those who encourage and cheer us on in the pursuit of seeking and glorifying God. Poor choices are easy in the beginning but difficult in the end, whereas right choices are hard in the beginning but easy in the end. We must forsake our flesh as we pursue our heavenly destination and live in a way that is pleasing to God. Every step, every breath draws us closer to eternity, and how we finish says more than how we started.
What are you purposing in your heart today? Is your attitude like Daniel’s? Have you drawn the line in the sand and made a pact that you will not defile yourself with the world’s attractions? Have you sat down on the climb and even gone backwards in pursuit of an easier way? May we purpose in our heart to finish our hike on this earth in a strong way as we long to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” God is waiting for us at the top, and we will join Him when He calls us home. Are you ready to meet your Savior? Are you living for Him? What is your purpose in life? May it be to live for God, so that we may know the fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11 states, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” You have a choice, you have a purpose. What will you choose today?