On the Mountain Top — (relying on Jesus to prepare the way)

If you know me at all, you know I just love mountains. I love driving through them, I love climbing them, I love hiking them, I love taking pictures of them, and I even love talking about mountains. There is just something so amazing about mountains. The beach is cool and all, but give me a quiet spot miles from civilization on a mountaintop somewhere any day.

I know I’m not at all original, but there are so many parallels between hiking in the mountains and day to day life. Tons of people have drawn those parallels. There is absolutely nothing like a mountain top experience, figuratively or literally. When ascending a mountain, it’s good to occasionally stop and assess how far you’ve come, but don’t ever convince yourself that you should stop now … press on! Keep going! Most of all it takes dedication and preparation to get to the top, there’s no elevator to the top, and you can’t expect to live on the mountain top. You have to come down sometime.

If I’m being honest, it’s that coming down part that is always so difficult for me. Yesterday I made a quick hike up a small mountain. I made frequent stops to look out over the valley, amazed at what I saw. I also stopped frequently to let larger groups go on ahead of me and get some good distance between us, I very much wanted to be alone.

When I finally got to the top, the view into the untouched valley below was absolutely breath-taking. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. Pictures simply don’t do it justice.

I stood on the mountain top for quite a while, waiting for three other groups to leave so I could stay here alone and pray. It was pretty amazing. It was freezing cold and windy, but worth every second.

On the way down, I thought about all the mountain top experiences I have in my own life. How many times I saw God come through in big and amazing ways. And the next day, when I was inevitably off that Rocky Mountain high, how I always feel like I came crashing down to the ground. I have to admit, the thing I struggle with most is discouragement. I feel like sometimes I go from the highest of heights to the lowest valleys in the course of a single day.

This week, it was putting the finishing touches on my Visionary blog post. Realizing and committing publicly to follow through with God’s amazing plans is quite the mountain high. But quickly afterward, when I was coming down, I started to calculate the enormous cost, all the logistics, everything I would have to coordinate and do, all the sacrifices I would have to make, and all the intentionality I would have to approach everything I need to do over the course of the next 10 years and it was more than a little daunting. Discouraging even.

Of course that discouragement doesn’t come with just the big stuff, but smaller bouts of discouragement comes with smaller parts of life as well. It all adds up quickly and overwhelmingly. How will I have the time to do everything I need to do? When will I ever get a break? Will all my servers break again this week? What if I let those people down? Do I have any new emails? What will they think of me? Do I have enough gas in my car or do I need to leave 15 minutes early tomorrow? When was that meeting? On and on and on. It all adds up to more than I can handle.

I feel buried by 10,000 different things, 10,000 different worries, 10,000 ways everything could go sideways and how it will all blow up in my face.

But you know what? If I have 10,000 worries, God’s grace goes to 11,000. Out of His extravagant abundance, He covers it all and then some. Those 10,000 worries bury you, they force you to forget the dozens of times you’ve been in this same boat and God made it all work out ok in the end. Every worry, every concern, every doubt and discouragement is just one more thing to lay at Jesus’ feet.

As time goes on, our reliance on Jesus needs to grow. Where you once felt like you really needed him once every few years, you will need him every few months. Keep on growing, and you will need Him every few weeks. Then every day. Then every single moment.

This is not an accident. We are made to be utterly and fully reliant on Jesus, we should acknowledge that our need for Him is as basic as our need for oxygen and food and water.

I have been a big ball of stress, worry, anxiety, fear, and discouragement lately. We made a little monument on the mountain with everything we want to leave behind, never to pick back up. Top of my list was discouragement. I want to leave it behind and replace it with radical reliance upon and faith in Jesus, moment by moment, second by second.