Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gliding, Climbing and Calling

By: Jen Pollock Michel

“I love riding downhill. I just hate having to go back up.” Camille Michel, age 8

If my daughter, Camille, has said something we all know to be true about bike riding, she has also said something true about Christian calling. In whatever capacity God has called us to steward our gifts and resources, we face two dimensions of that call. One is the downhill glide; the other, the uphill climb. One is easy- one, grueling. One is exhilarating, the other punishing . 

On the downhill glide, the beauty of the landscape blurs by and the wind whips through our hair. At this moment, we are fully alive! The downhill of calling is the sum total of our responsibilities that feel easy, natural, fun. We are barely pedaling through the work and obligations. For me, for example, this is the actual writing that I do. Not much muscle is required for the hours that stretch endlessly before me at a keyboard. If calling were only downhill glides, you and I would surely be meeting our days with fresh-faced enthusiasm.

Only we don’t. If you’re like me, you’re pulling the covers over your head in the morning, afraid to face the day’s demands. Or you’re waking in the middle of the night, restless with the thought of the responsibilities that are yours to shoulder. Ahead, there are mountains of impossible scale. Are your skeleton legs and bike meant to get you to the top? If I had considered the writing of a book fun, the demands of selling of a book makes me want to slink away for a nap.

Here’s where you and I want to do our giving up, concluding that we have neither the muscle nor the will to do what God has asked of us. The good news is this: this is precisely where God means to meet us and make an invitation we cannot refuse. 

Throw down that rusty bike of self-confidence.

Measure the mountain and all of these impossibilities.

Now, get back up, back on- and pedal with new energy.

“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses . . . [and the uphill climb]. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:10

Calling is fueled both by the exhilaration of the downhill as well as the self-defeat of the climbs. On the downhill, we discover the sheer thrill of surrendering ourselves to God for work that well-suits us. “I love riding downhill!” At the same time, we cannot give up when it’s time to climb. Calling requires we accept both, rejoicing when the landscape blurs past and the pedals move themselves- and sticking with it when they don’t.

Jen writes for Today in the Word, a monthly devotional published by The Moody Bible Institute. She blogs at and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled, Found Wanting: Learning the Language of Desire for the Life of Faith.


  1. This is so true. Sometimes doing our calling, whatever it is, comes so easy. And other days, it like "Really??" you want me to do what? That I wouldn't allow myself to trip on my own weakness.

  2. Jen (and Camille), Thanks for your words of wisdom that appeared just when I was deciding whether or not I could pedal to the top of the hill ahead. My husband reminds me, when tackling the hilly landscape near our home, that it's important to maintain a steady ryhthm or cadence when pedaling uphill. Lord, thank-you for making my legs strong and steady in your strength!