“If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back –
‘Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.”

Life is a steep climb, and it does the heart good to have somebody “call back” and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill. We are all climbers together, and we must help one another. This mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious. It takes strength and steady step to find the summits. The outlook widens with the altitude. If anyone among us has found anything worthwhile, we ought to “call back.”
              Streams in the Desert, 12/19 entry

Recently, I was flipping through my calendar for 2015 and lingered over some of the clinic appointments I had marked for this time last year. Those were days of intensified chemotherapy and steroids. I remember well our little one’s swollen abdomen, aching legs, irritable disposition, disrupted sleep and voracious appetite. She woke up one night and wanted pizza delivered at 2 a.m.! After a week on steroids, she would stop playing entirely and simply want to be held or rocked throughout the day. By week’s end, stomach pains kicked in and the bi-monthly trip to the cancer clinic for blood-work became a huge emotional hurdle. Those were days of great weariness and a steeper climb.

During those tough days of our journey, we would cling to the hopeful stories of those ahead of us on the recovery road. They “called back” to us from up ahead on the trail, “You’re in a tough place right now, but it gets better just around the bend!” We lost sight of the summit, shrouded in foggy mists, but their voices called back to us that they could see it clearly. Recovery is possible. It’s coming. Don’t give up.

We are still climbing. Maintenance phase may not be quite as intense and the side effects not quite as devastating, but the road is still steep and wearisome. Our little cancer warrior has lost hair 3 times in this process. She still does a 5 day course of steroids every month after her infusion. Her face and tummy often look swollen. She still takes daily oral chemo that sometimes makes her nauseated or sick. We are grateful to be further up the trail, but those calls from others up ahead are every bit as essential to keep us going.

More than anything, we hear the voice of our Lord calling back to us. “Courage, dear heart. Courage. I know this is difficult right now. Oh, so difficult. Take My hand and we’ll walk it together.”

We have several avid hikers in our family. They know that every trail has its hard segment of miserable uphill climbing and endless switchbacks. Yet if they press through it, sometimes using every reserve bit of strength, they eventually break through the tree line to enjoy an amazing vista opening up before them. That is their reward, and that will be our reward as well. We won’t reach the summit until we stand at heaven’s door, but we trust that many awesome outlooks and viewpoints still lie ahead for our little girl. And someday, she may be the one calling back down the mountain to those climbing the rocky terrain behind her, “Courage, dear heart.  It’s well worth the climb.  Just wait and see!”

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,
And sets me upon my high places.
            Psalm 18:33