Mountain Climbing and Christian Ministries (Part 2)
Yesterday, in Part 1 of Mountain Climbing and Christian Ministries, we saw that caffeine, adrenaline, and a whim can carry us to God's mountain. However, getting to the mountain is one thing; climbing it is another. This post is about saying "yes" to God and committing to climbing despite the obstacles.
Imagine standing at the base of the mountains. The large group of tourists you came with on this trip is beginning to separate. One group of tourists says, "That's not just one mountain. That's a mountain range that we have to climb. I can't do that!" This group quits and decides to have a picnic under the shade trees.
Path #1: The Tour Guide's Easy Way
The "Tour Guide" calls the remaining group together and says, "There are two paths up the mountain. One way is wide and easy. There are few steep grades, many other tourists to keep you company, and the tour guide will always be there to show you the sights. On this mountain climbing trip, you won't need to change anything about your life. You are fine, just as you are.
Immediately, nearly everyone moves toward the Tour Guide, who smiles welcomingly. "What a great deal!" someone shouts from the crowd. Then, the easy way converts look quizically at you and a few others who decide to stand your ground. "Do they think they are too good for us? Why aren't they joining us?" scoffed the man with a rainbow-colored t-shirt.
Path #2: The Hard, Narrow Way that Leads to a Single Gate
"What is the second path?" comes the question for the Tour Guide. "Oh, the second way is the hard way. That path is narrow, and the climb is very steep. Few people take that route. This is because so many changes are necessary to endure it. And once you make it to the top, there is a single gate that you must pass through. So I don't recommend that way!"
Moving Forward on the Narrow Path
You watch the large group disappear as they take the easy path leading down the trail. Then, you and your small group begin the climb up the steep, narrow pathway.
After climbing for hours, you spot a small clearing on the trail. You notice a hand-carved wood sign leaning against a pine tree. The sign reads,
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14
As your group rests in the warmth of the afternoon sunlight, you look up at the majestic mountain towering thousands of feet above. You feel supercharged and ready to get moving again.
Strength In The Fog
The mountain's face is vertical as you continue inching your way forward. Then, already too steep for a couple of brothers and sisters, they turn back down the mountain. They promise to make another attempt when they are better prepared for the challenge.
Looking up at your destination, you see a thick bank of fog descending on your position. A sudden bolt of fear strikes you as the fog bank envelopes the mountain face. Clinging to the rock face, you see these words etched in the granite as if by some invisible hand,
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 11:10
The fog bank has blotted out nearly all light. You feel like quitting; perseverance is in short supply. And then, just as you are about to lose your grip, a warm glow of light hovers overhead. You feel peace as you feel the warmth of the ray of light. And then, as if multiplying, you see another light, and another, until the fog turns to sunlight.
A sense of calm and peace wraps around you. You feel God's presence and assurance that all is well.
Top of the Mountain
You look up, and to your amazement, the mountain peak is within sight. How can that be, you think? Just a moment ago, the summit was far in the distance. Then, looking up again, you see a hand reaching down to grasp yours. The angel takes you by hand, effortlessly lifts you up, and places you gently atop the mountain. With a smile, the guardian angel assures you the narrow path has led you to the narrow gate. You have found The Way and will never turn back. You know that Jesus is The Way.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6