Do you welcome that mountain in life?

If you have been reading these blogs, by now you know how much I love to go hiking at Sawnee Mountain. No, it is not a big mountain by any means. In fact, those that live in mountainous areas would probably laugh at our little mound of a mountain. But nonetheless, to those of us that live here, it is our immediate little escape, our wilderness, our refuge.

As the crow flies, it is 2 miles from my home. I can drive to my spot in 6 minutes. Being so close in proximity, I can hike there any day of the week, any time of the day, in any weather.

But why do we feel the need to challenge ourselves and hike up a strenuous path? Why do we choose to go that route rather than being in a gym where the temperatures are regulated, the TV’s are going, and there is less chance of twisting an ankle?

There are the obvious answers of being out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, seeing the wildlife, and the views from on high.

“The mountains rose, the valleys sank, down to the place that you appointed for them.”
Psalm 104:8

Perhaps though we could look at this mountain, this challenge in our lives, in a different way. Maybe it represents something in our life, which we need to conquer. Maybe it represents a time or place in our life when we just need to get away from the busyness of our week, and see and hear life beyond our own.

I hiked 7 miles yesterday at Sawnee, and during that time, I freely worshipped the Lord, sang, met a new friend named Suzanne, chased some wild turkeys, and got a great workout. But even more than that, the Lord taught me some parallels about the mountains in our life. Here they are:

  1. They will always be there. They don’t move. It doesn’t matter where you are, there will always be a mountain: an uphill climb, a challenge, a decision, a temptation for you.
  2. You can choose to tackle it daily, 3x a week, monthly, or not at all. The frequency of how often you go there and face it will affect how you well you face it the next time. It will give you a better knowledge of where your path will take you, what to expect along the way, and other routes you could take to accomplish it.
  3. You can hike alone, or with others. You can do this thing alone, or you can bring others along that you can encourage, or that encourage you through it, to the end. Sometimes I hike alone, and seek God alone, and other times I hike with a friend, and share my thoughts or problems with them too.
  4. You can climb the mountain during any season of the year, or any season of your life, and the weather might affect your hike and your pace. It may rain hard, the winds might blow down branches, the snow might cover the path. In any case, expect that surrounding circumstances out of your control could affect your duration.
  5. Hiking on mountains is an excellent physical workout, and those mountains in our life can make us stronger for the next time we face something hard.
  6. Face your mountain with expectation of conquering it. Not with fear, but with joy. You will overcome it. I would go so far as to say, look forward to it! Especially when you know the Lord is right there beside you, encouraging you through it. This is one more step in taking you from a piece of coal, to that shining diamond.
  7. Recognize that there are the stumbling blocks of rocks and roots, that would entangle you and cause you to trip and fall down. Keep your eyes focused on what is ahead of you, and not what is behind you. Know that situations or temptations could bring you down if you aren’t prepared for them.
  8. There might be wild turkeys along the way. (I saw 3 and chased them off the trail). Don’t let them distract you and draw you off course. Remember the phrase “I’d rather soar with eagles rather than walk with turkeys”?
  9. There will be buzzards waiting for a meal. 7 vultures flew over my head, which motivated me to keep going! If I rested for too long, fell asleep or gave up, the evil one would sneak in and get a good bite, or more.
  10. You will encounter others along the way. Some may be walking slowly, others may be running. In any case, be friendly, and ready to lend a helping hand or give a kind word. You are not alone on this journey, on this path, on this mountain of life.
  11. There are 2 distinct vantage points of this mountain: from below, and from the top. When seeing it from below, you notice how tall it is, and perhaps more than you can handle or conquer. When you see it from the top, the view is spectacular as you can see far off distance places: where you came from, and maybe where you’re headed next. You have the hope and confidence of conquering this mountain again.
  12. There are highs and lows, peaks and valleys of every good, strenuous trail. You have to have the one to appreciate the other. To get to the best view, you need to push yourself, and work hard to attain that peak. To get to the water, you need to go descend down to the valley.

“He said to them, “…For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

Whatever the mountain represents in your life, know that our Lord is there.

Jesus frequently slipped away for solitude and prayer time.
“And after He had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…”
Matthew 14:23

Food for thought: God loves the mountains! After all, He created them, had the ark come to rest on one, appeared to Moses and gave the 10 commandments to him from one, spared Isaac on one, the temple is/was/will be again built on one in Jerusalem, Jesus was tempted on one, Jesus delivered the Beatitudes on one, the Transfiguration happened on a mountain, Jesus was betrayed on one, and Jesus gave his final words and commissioned the disciples on a mountain.

Fun facts: Mountains are mentioned over 550 times in the Bible. Mt. Sinai, also called Mt. Horeb, and Mt. Zion, are the most prominent ones in the Old Testament, and Mt. Olives is the mentioned most in the New Testament.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – View from the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain.

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