It's been more than two decades since our families' summer vacation led us on an adventurous, seven-hour journey to conquer this often fog-shrouded mountain, testing our endurance and perseverance along the marked path en route to the summit and back down again.
I still vividly remember the strenuous climb up through the gorge, and how painful and daunting it was for me. I moaned and groaned and gasped for air as I climbed over boulders, literally, on my hands and knees. My sore stretched calves had me resting every five minutes, and each time I contemplated quitting.
You see, I wanted the splendor of the mountaintop that awaited me, but I didn't want to do the hard work it entailed to get there: I wanted comfort. I wanted the easy way out. But thanks to Derick and our two children for urging me to keep going, the most spectacular view stood before us on the summit that day. From the broader viewpoint of the mountain, we were also able to capture a better perspective on how far we'd traveled, and it certainly gave us a different outlook than the forested area below.
However, after every mountaintop event in life, there's a valley in which we must descend. And it wasn't long into ours before we were temporarily forced to huddle together when a fast-moving rainstorm came upon us and produced a dense fog cover over the mountain. It not only dampened our summit experience, but it also turned the rocky terrain into a slippery, treacherous mess, heightening our sense of urgency to reach the base area safely.
But whether we are literally or figuratively climbing a mountain, both have pain and hard work involved. Because not unlike my mountain climb expedition, there have been times in my Christian journey where it felt like I was crawling along, times when I wanted to quit, times when I wanted it to be more comfortable, and times when I felt shrouded in a fog, not knowing my way out.
I am sure we can all relate to the many challenges life brings and to the fact that these challenges can—for a short time—veil our inner beauty, and even test our faith. However, there's no better way to weather the storm than to huddle together with those closest to us, to help us come to terms with our circumstances and regain our footing.
So often, though, our initial response is to pull back and try to face things on our own, and while this may be okay for a period, we aren't created to climb alone. Instead, Christ's calls us to encourage one another, to build one another up, and to give one another that extra support along the, sometimes, rocky path of life.
As we celebrate our faith and give thanks for the miracle of the Cross this Easter, let us also call to mind our humanness, to recognize that (just like us) Christ's closest followers had times when they were shrouded in a fog of doubt and fear. But the illustration of Him stumbling and crawling up the incline with the burden of the cross/world on His shoulders is one of redemption. He rose again to offer His grace, love, and forgiveness to a world that was and still is in desperate need of hope and guidance for all phases of life's climb, en route to the final summit (Heaven).
How will you climb?