Friday, July 21, 2017

The Purpose of a Mountain Top Experience

In my 50th year, a friend invited me to climb the tallest mountain overlooking our region. Mount McLoughlin stands 9,499 feet. For the last almost 8,000 years it has held prominence in our area. Before that, it lived in the shadow of the volcanic peak known as Mount Mazama. When Mount Mazama erupted its 12,000-foot peak vanished removing a mile of its elevation leaving a huge pit that is today known as Crater Lake. The eruption of Mount Mazama was huge – 42 times as large as Mount St. Helens.

Working my way up the slopes of Mount McLoughlin brought me a sense of expectation. It took several hours. It was more of a hike than actual mountain climbing. It did it in tennis shoes. Once on top, I turned 360 degrees stunned at the vista. I pulled out my cell phone and noticed I had enough reception to make a call. My first call was to my wife, Jan, to let her know I was looking down on her, and would be home safe and sound later that day. I also called Mary, our church secretary to let her know I thought I could see the area where the church was located. When you finally make such a climb, you want to share the experience. I had no flag to plant, just two phone calls to record the event.

17 years have gone by since I made that ascent. I doubt I will ever go back. Each time I look up at the peak of Mount McLoughlin, I think of that day on the summit. From that experience,  I learned something about mountain summits. You don’t get much done there. They are lonely spots, windswept and rocky places above the timberline. Nothing grows there. Earthly summits are places where two things happen, you gain a new perspective on your surroundings and you get to say you were there.

Some of us look forward to mountain top experiences in a spiritual sense. We actually need them from time to time. There is nothing wrong with desiring them. They give us needed perspective on the beauty and largeness of life. They also help us realize that real life is lived in the valley. Valleys are where we encounter broken people and challenging circumstances. In these encounters of real life in the valley is where we discover the value of having experienced a spiritual summit. The perspective gained on the summit helps us look over and beyond our current struggle to see what is possible.

Now, when I look at the summit of Mount McLoughlin, I think to myself, “I was there!” I take that thought with me throughout the day knowing that I have seen my life from a higher place. Perspective is powerful because it can be soothing when life is painful. 

You and I live here on planet Earth but we are also, at this very moment, seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father looking over all that is under the feet of His overwhelming authority. That is the kind of mountain top experience that will help us navigate the struggles of a valley life with courage and faith. Today, take a spiritual hike to the summit of your faith and from your place in Christ gain a fresh perspective on your life. It will change how you see everything.

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