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VIEW OF THE HIGH COUNTRY

 



VIEW OF THE HIGH COUNTRY

While in Colorado for a week’s vacation, our family teamed up with several others and decided to ascend the summit of a fourteen-thousand-foot peak. We would climb it the easy way. Drive above the timberline and tackle the final mile by foot. You hearty hikers would have been bored, but for a family with three small girls, it was about all we could take.

The journey was as tiring as it was beautiful. I was reminded how the air was thin and my waist was not.

 

Our four-year-old Sara had it doubly difficult. A tumble in the first few minutes left her with a skinned knee and a timid step. She didn’t want to walk. Actually, she refused to walk. She wanted to ride. First on my back, then in Mom’s arms, then my back, then a friend’s back, then my back, then Mom’s . . . well, you get the picture.

 

In fact, you know how she felt. You, too, have tumbled, and you, too, have asked for help. And you, too, have received it.

All of us need help sometimes. This journey gets steep. So steep that some of us give up.

Some stop climbing. Some just sit down. They are still near the trail, but they aren’t on it. They haven’t abandoned the trip, but they haven’t continued it. They haven’t dismounted, but they haven’t spurred either. They haven’t resigned, and yet they haven’t resolved.

 

They have simply stopped walking. Much time is spent sitting around the fire, talking about how things used to be. Some will sit in the same place for years. They will not change. Prayers will not deepen. Devotion will not increase. Passion will not rise.

 

A few even grow cynical. Woe to the traveler who challenges them to resume the journey. Woe to the prophet who dares them to see the mountain. Woe to the explorer who reminds them of their call . . . pilgrims are not welcome here.

And so the pilgrim moves on while the settler settles.

 

Settles for sameness.

Settles for safety.

Settles for snowdrifts.

I hope you don’t do that. But if you do, I hope you don’t scorn the pilgrim who calls you back to the journey.

It’s worth it to keep moving.

As I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Sara to walk, I tried


                   

describing what we were going to see. “It will be so pretty,” I told her. “You’ll see all the mountains and the sky and the trees.” No luck—she wanted to be carried. Still a good idea, however. Even if it didn’t work. Nothing puts power in the journey like a vision of the mountaintop.

 

By the way, a grand scene awaits you as well. The Hebrew writer gives us a National Geographic piece on heaven. Listen to how he describes the mountaintop of Zion. He says when we reach the mountain we will have come to “the city of the living God. . . . To thousands of angels gathered together with joy. . . . To the meeting of God’s firstborn children whose names are written in heaven. . . . To God, the judge of all people, . . . and to the spirits of good people who have been made perfect. . . . To Jesus, the One who brought the new agreement from God to his people. . . . To the sprinkled blood that has a better message than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:22–24).

What a mountain! Won’t it be great to see the angels? To finally know what they look like and who they are? To hear them tell of the times they were at our side, even in our house?

Imagine the meeting of the firstborn. A gathering of all God’s children. No jealousy. No competition. No division. No hurry. We will be perfect . . . sinless. No more stumbles. No more tripping. Lusting will cease. Gossip will be silenced. Grudges forever removed.

 

And imagine seeing God. Finally, to gaze in the face of your Father. To feel the Father’s gaze upon you. Neither will ever cease.

He will do what he promised he would do. I will make all things new, he promised. I will restore what was taken. I will restore your years drooped on crutches and trapped in wheelchairs. I will restore the smiles faded by hurt. I will replay the symphonies unheard by deaf ears and the sunsets unseen by blind eyes.

The mute will sing. The poor will feast. The wounds will heal.

I will make all things new. I will restore all things. The child snatched by disease will run to your arms. The freedom lost to oppression will dance in your heart. The peace of a pure heart will be my gift to you.

I will make all things new. New hope. New faith. And most of all new Love. The Love of which all other loves speak. The Love before which all other loves pale. The Love you have sought in a thousand ports in a thousand nights . . . this Love of mine, will be yours.

 

What a mountain! Jesus will be there. You’ve longed to see him. You finally will. Interesting what the writer says we will see. He doesn’t mention the face of Jesus, though we will see it. He doesn’t refer to the voice of Jesus, though it will shout. He mentions a part of Jesus that most of us wouldn’t think of seeing. He says we will see Jesus’ blood. The crimson of the cross. The life liquid that seeped from his forehead, dripped from his hands, and flowed from his side.

 

The human blood of the divine Christ. Covering our sins.

Proclaiming a message: We have been bought. We cannot be sold. Ever.

My, what a moment. What a mountain.

Believe me when I say it will be worth it. No cost is too high. If you must pay a price, pay it! No sacrifice is too much. If you must leave baggage on the trail, leave it! No loss will compare. Whatever it takes, do it.

For heaven’s sake, do it.

It will be worth it. I promise. One view of the peak will justify the pain of the path.

By the way, our group finally made it up the mountain. We spent an hour or so at the top, taking pictures and enjoying the view. Later, on the way down, I heard little Sara exclaim proudly, “I did it!”

 

I chuckled. No you didn’t, I thought. Your mom and I did it. Friends and family got you up this mountain. You didn’t do it.

But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything because I’m getting the same treatment. So are you. We may think we are climbing, but we are riding. Riding on the back of the Father who saw us fall. Riding on the back of the Father who wants us to make it home. A Father who doesn’t get angry when we get weary.

After all, he knows what it’s like to climb a mountain.

He climbed one for us.

 

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