Have you ever climbed, or attempted to climb, a mountain? “Define mountain,” you say. I agree. What’s a mountain to me might be nothing to you. Let me speak of my experience. Years ago, my husband and I took our three young children to Estes Park, Colorado. We spent “wildly,” praying and hoping the money would stretch enough to enroll the kids at the YMCA of the Rockies day camp. We did this not only so that they could experience the beautiful Rockies with children their own age, but also, more importantly, so that we could have some time alone together–just the two of us–to experience the beautiful Rockies!
It was there that I climbed my first mountain. (Well, except for Mt. Rainier during our honeymoon, but we mostly drove that.) Anyways. I didn’t really climb a mountain. But it sure felt like it. We hiked a fairly easy trail that had the possibility of revealing a glimpse of the Big Horn sheep near the top. By fairly easy, I mean it was a beautiful, wide trail, well-marked, hiking shoes not required. It was all uphill, though. No level ground, if I remember correctly. We walked up through fragrant pine-smelling forests, (Is there any better smell in the world? Maybe fresh-mown hay.), past the cold, meandering mountain streams, and finally reached an area where we were above the treetops. Wow it was windy up there! Where are those mittens when you need them?
I remember having to stop and catch my breath too often. My water bottle was emptied very quickly. My knees started to burn and my feet began to ache. Yet we kept climbing, thinking of the possibility of the “sheep prize” at the top. After several hours of uphill traveling, we pulled out our binoculars and searched and searched. Nope. Nothing. Oh wait! … No, that’s just rocks. *sigh*
I clearly remember that going down the mountain was nearly as difficult as going up. In addition to the strain of using the other muscles, there’s no “potential prize” when you reach the bottom, except perhaps enjoying the comfort of the car and being able to remove your shoes and put your feet up.
When I read of people climbing HUGE mountains, camping out for days and weeks at a time and enduring unimaginable conditions, I think of my own little “mountain” hiking. I can’t even fathom what they go through.
I got an email today from a friend who said, “Sounds like we will finally climb this mountain.” It’s what got me thinking about mountains. And different sizes of mountains. What the climb was like. What the prize was at the top. I thought about mountain-top experiences. But the interesting thing this note said was it’s not just me who’s climbing this mountain. It’s “we.”
I thought about the many moments I’ve experienced when I’ve felt alone. You’ve been there? I’ve been thinking about this particular mountain climbing. It’s going to be lonely, and painful, and scary, and long, and maybe not “prize-at-the-top” winning. But then I remember that my Father, my Daddy, He’s there with me. Always. I’m never alone. And to encourage me, He gives me people to walk with me. Even though I’d make it okay if it were just me and Him. He’s so good. I love Him.
Father, I’m sorry that I often try to do the climbing by myself. I get into busy-ness and stress-ness and “just have to get this done today-ness” and get going without You. And then the climb gets really hard. And I get tired and growly and not very fun to be around. Thank you again, Jesus, for forgiving me and not letting me wriggle my hand out of Yours. Thank you for walking with me up this mountain, and for the friends that You’ve sent to encourage me.
Keep holding on! And help a friend with her mountain-climbing, if you can. 🙂