Thursday

Reasons to Keep Climbing

We were staying in the beautiful mountain home of a kind friend. From approximately 4,000 feet up, the view of the valley and far off Mt. Pisgah was breathtaking. Wide porches wrapped the house, and wooden rockers invited quiet contemplation. The steady stream of woodland birds at the feeders dangling from the porch's periphery stood in marked contrast to the staid backdrop of the mountains. It was the perfect place for an impromptu writer's weekend.





Ruminating on the mysterious connection between walking and inspiration, we donned our tennis shoes and headed out the door, ready to soak up scenery that will one day insert itself into our literary creations. 

For a while we traveled the downward path and the way was easy and green. Cool breezes filtered past our faces. Dappled sunlight lay scattered on the road ahead like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs, luring us farther and deeper into the woods until we reached a junction. The right path would take us off the mountain; the left would lead us home.


And so we began to climb.

For a while the path was gradual, with upward sections alternating with straightaways, but then a hidden switchback gave way to a steep incline. The easy conversation that flowed between us ceased as the climb claimed every bit of oxygen our lungs could process. The walk was no longer pleasant as our muscles strained and our sides heaved. As we bent our bodies in what seemed parallel orientation to the roadway, we strained our eyes for a glimpse of the house through the thick woods.

God's word often compares our lives to a path. "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls" says Jeremiah 6:6.

And like our mountain walk, sometimes the path is easy and sun-strewn, and sometimes an unexpected switchback forces us to climb a hill we didn't anticipate. Why are we surprised when the road gets hard? "In this world you will have trouble," warned our Savior. But we cry and complain, doubt and fear. We wonder if God loves us, and we question the faith walk like there's an alternative. "Though he slay me," Job said, "I will trust in him."

We're climbing a mountain, and the mountain leads home. We can't go higher without a climb, and the path is rocky, and the path is hard. Sweat stings our eyes and tears cloud our vision. Our faith muscles strain and our spiritual lungs gasp and suck in deep droughts of Spirit air.

And in the thunder and the lightening, the dark clouds and the rumbling, we find God. God lives on the mountain, and he is the object of our climb. In his presence is fullness of joy.

  

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."


"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."



"Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your salvation."





Writer friends Sue Duffy, Janey Goude, Dawn Gonzalez, and Winston & me on the mountain.
Since this writers' weekend, Sue has finished her climb and received her reward.





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3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post! I especially love the pictures. My husband and I honeymooned in the Smokey Mountains and hiked up to Clingman's Dome. I vividly remember the point where it stopped being fun and was just cold and hard to breathe, so this really spoke to me. Your writing paints such a vivid picture!

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  2. Yes! Mandi, you've nailed it. You know the scene and the challenge. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your kind comments:)

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  3. Beautifully written, dear friend. Thanks for an amazing weekend and documenting it for all posterity!

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