There are mountains for everyone to climb. They draw our attention simply because they are there.
Perhaps the greatest joy in climbing one is not so much because we are challenged by what looks impossible, but because once we are up there we see our world from a different perspective.
It is at that moment that many a soul has become awestruck...not as much for all the beauty God created, but because they paused to marvel that He would descend downward to find US where we live.
Where I live in Alaska, I am surrounded by towering mountains on three sides...the Knik Arm takes up the forth. Having grown up in the flat plains of West Texas, I always yearned to see a mountain. My father had saved every National Geographic magazine since the 30's...they were stored out in a little room next to the garage. How I loved to look through those priceless treasures...and dream of the Rockies, the Alps, places that I could only imagine. What would it be like to climb so high, and gaze from such an awesome height? I still have one in particular...so old the pictures are in black and white. It is of one man's travels to Lijang, in the mountains of Yunnan province of China. Little did I realize that one day I would go to that very place and see it for myself...in living reality! That venture was like a dream, every moment was filled with awe.
Mountains seem to have always captured man's imagination...the poor Egyptians living in the flat sands surrounding the Nile had to be content with the man-made variety: pyramids. And of course, the Bible is full of references to their uniqueness as places of spiritual significance and mystery.
As I look at our jagged towering behemoths, they are humbling to me; they are a challenge that my flesh says is an impossibility, that I could in no way ever hope to climb them. And looking at my age and physical condition, I would have to agree. Yet I also know that despite what rational thinking tells me, I know I could do it if I but tried. I know that I could. Slowly, yes. With lots of rest stops. But I could do it.
That is exactly the way I find myself facing challenges everyday...they stand like mountains in front of me. My flesh sometimes says I cannot make it...but something else inside tells me differently. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" is a scripture that confirms it.
One day years ago we were camped out in a little trailer, having driven down from Alaska to Dallas, Texas. There was just four of us, my husband and son Mark, and our little girl Missy, age five. And I needed to find a post office. After inquiring, I found that there was one not too far...perhaps a mile or two. So I set out with Missy...walking. Somehow I failed to realize that was a one-way estimate...the entire journey would turn out to be five miles roundtrip! and here I had a little child whose legs were not strong enough for that kind of walking. So I had to carry her when she tired.
Coming back, it didn't take long before we both became exhausted. Then I remembered the story I had read to her many times, about the little train engine that "could." "I think I can, I think I can" the little locomotive kept saying as he struggled up the hill. "Do you remember that story?" I asked her. "Let's pretend we are that little engine, Missy." And so I would put her down to walk again...both of us would struggle with a few more blocks, then we would rest a bit, and I would pick her up in my arms once more and tell myself "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." Truthfully, I was not all that sure....but before we knew it, we were both rejoicing.... we had made it!
That incident has stayed with both of us over all these years. It was a lesson for life. And from that "mountaintop," we could look down at earth below us and understand that it was in those valleys our loving heavenly Father traveled downward and met us during difficult times and carried us in His arms when we had no strength left.
He did it for Elijah when he sat down under a juniper tree, exhausted from his long journey fleeing from Jezebel. "It is enough" he spoke. "O Lord, take away my life." Have you ever felt that way? You have reached your limit...there is no more strength to go on? But as he lay and slept, an angel of the Lord came twice and touched him. "Arise and eat, Elijah!" He looked, and there at his feet was a cake baked on the coals and a cruse of water at his head. "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you" the angel spoke again. "And he arose and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God".
Looking back, I realize that the story of the little locomotive didn't just pop into my mind...it became our strength to go on....and I have observed over the years that followed, He was always there for us with the cake and a cruse of water. Because He wants us to make it to the top so He, like he did for Elijah, can minister to our hearts words that when we return to the wilderness below once again, will cause us to see the mountains that remain not as impossible and unconquerable...but we can look among the ones yet to be climbed and find.. there among them... the many in which He carried us to the top when our legs gave out...
MARY E. ADAMS