Ever climb a mountain?
The first one I ever climbed was while I was living in New York City for a summer.
A friend I’ve known since high school lived in upstate New York at the time, and knowing that I enjoyed hiking and adventure, invited me to join him in his summit of Mt. Marcy–the highest peak in the Adirondack mountain range.
Standing at an elevation of just over 5,300ft, Mt. Marcy is famous for her highest peak title and 15 mile trail from top to bottom. Although not technically challenging, the trail is long and the summit is an all-day commitment.
I remember stopping with a group of other hikers to eat lunch on a grassy plateau. I was starving and tired and dirty but overall in good spirits–we had made it! The sun hit just right with its warm welcoming rays of gold and all I could think about were all the miles we had just traversed and the juicy grapes I had waiting for me in my backpack.
After a 15 minute rest, everyone started packing up their pretzels and energy bars and continued up a trail I had not noticed.
“Wait, I thought this was the end!” I exclaimed to my now chuckling friend.
“The summit is over there,” he answered, smiling at me and pointing off into the distance. “We have a way to go.”
Ahh. Isn’t that the story of my life.
This comfortable grassy high point, this sweet reward, was not our final destination.
Although the view was breathtaking and although we had traversed creeks, scrambled up boulders and peed in the woods twice, we still had miles of trail ahead of us.
How often this sentiment is true in our very own everyday lives. Just when we think we’ve finally “made it” we learn that in fact, we haven’t. Whether it’s a set back in our career, a lost relationship, a child who somehow learned to de-potty-train themselves overnight or that feeling you get when you realize you still care too much about what others think of you, we all struggle to accept the challenge to continue a journey that’s already been all we thought we could handle because we hate to leave what’s become comfortable.
I believe we are where we are for a purpose, and it is not the end. Although you may have suffered, strived, or sacrificed greatly, the setbacks or steps forward you experience today is only a part of the journey toward our ultimate comfort place–the heart of Jesus.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about hiking mountains, it’s that you can only take the trail one step at a time. You can’t climb a mountain when you’re too worried about where you came from or where you’re going because you’ll miss the footholds right in front of you; so true is living out the days of our lives in all their varied expressions.
When I hike, I’m reminded of the importance of focusing in on the trail and the beauty. It is in these times that I experience God’s presence and am reminded of his love for me. As the trailblazers who’ve gone before me know, so too God knows the journey he has planned for me–a journey that ultimately exclaims him as Lord of all.
As the psalmist writes in 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My helps comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” We cannot begin to place our trust in ourselves or others. We cannot look to the mountains in our lives to tell us who we are or where we are going. We cannot be so overcome with fear or pride that we miss the footholds in front of us or ignore them all together.
What mountain are you climbing (or descending) in your life today?
Where have you been lifting your eyes, expecting direction or affirmation other than the Creator Himself?
Today may you be reminded that God calls us to follow Him one ‘yes’ and one step at a time. He does not expect us to know the entire trail but instead to listen and pay attention to the ways in which He is shaping us along the journey. Regardless of where you currently find yourself, whether upon a mountain top or in the middle of a deep and dark valley, may you find remember that you are not alone, you have a way to go, and you have not yet reached your final destination.