When We're Looking for Progress

When We’re Looking for Progress

Cool mountain air drifted through the cracked-open window, bringing sleep-disturbing beeps and rumbles with it. Awake in our tiny room in the back of the lodge, I tried to place the sound. Was it a tractor? A road grater? Eventually, I remembered: it was a snow groomer. 

I’d seen one as twilight settled on the mountain the afternoon before, its headlights flickering between the trees. After several years away from skiing, I’d forgotten about snow groomers and their restorative work. They spend the overnight hours crushing away the scurf of the day—transforming icy slopes and washboard wear into skiable surfaces.

When daylight came, freshly groomed snow—called corduroy for its grooved finish, glistened in the sun. It was all the invitation was needed to hurry out the door and onto the slopes for our day’s expedition. By afternoon every groove was worn away and the slopes had reverted to a slick sheen. 

After a long day of skiing, we moved to a room on the other side of the lodge. Waking early again, I listened for the hopeful sound of a snow groomer doing its transformative work on the mountain. For me, a good surface makes the difference between a good day of skiing and a survivable one. What I wanted to hear was proof that progress to that end was taking place. What I heard was nothing. Silence, when I choose it, is a spacious place for my weary soul. When I don’t, it’s a spawning ground for worry. 

It’s true on the slopes and it’s true in life. 

Eventually, the rising sun roused the family. Before long, we were on the path behind the lodge. A snow groomer was trekking across the face of the mountain, returning from its pre-dawn duties. Every slope I could see was covered in corduroy. I’d worried for nothing. 

My Mistake

Even though I hadn’t been able to hear them from our new room, the snow groomers had been hard at it while we slept. I’d made the mistake of believing that just because I couldn’t hear the work being done it wasn’t happening. This, too, is as true in life as it was during the dark hours of the morning on the slope.

More often than we would like, we walk through—and wait in—the valley of what feels like death. We watch and listen for indicators of change and are met with silence. It’s easy to succumb to the fear-cultivating belief that if we can’t see progress, there must not be any. I do this even though I know it isn’t true. Do you? Here’s what is true: navigating by faith involves more of what we can’t see than of what we can. 

It’s in the quiet moments of walking and waiting by faith that the work is done. God is always at work, and he doesn’t act in the nick of time. He acts in His right time. We don’t need to worry that nothing is happening. 

When we look back at the path that brought us from where we were to where we are, we find a series of small steps and long stops. We see progress in what felt like the paralysis of marking time. And we discover purpose in a pace that once seemed painfully slow.

Take heart. There is work being done, whether we perceive it or not.

Pause and Reflect: 

We’re all somewhere between where we began and where we want to be. Are you worried that nothing is happening—in you or in your situation? Remember this, God is at work, even when we don’t see it. What truth can you speak to yourself to encourage your soul today? 

Let us know what you found out as you considered these questions. We’d love to hear where you’re at on your journey. 

take heart and happy trails ~ Natalie

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