It was the summer of 2012 and we as a family were away with our youth group as well as another group from another local church in our area on a white water rafting trip in Jackman, Maine. A lot of great ministry was done. With memories ranging from me almost drowning in the rapids to paint ball in torrential rain; the week wasn’t short on laughs. Of all the things that happened that week, what I remember most was a mountain climb that almost didn’t happen with my daughter Mackenzie.
During a day where we had the opportunity to decide what it was we wanted to do, we as a group had decided to climb a mountain; the challenging Bald Mountain with a top elevation of 3,640 feet. I know…. I hear you…. of all the things to do, we choose to climb a mountain. Now I’m sure a hike like this is something that could really bring a scout troop together; but for us, at times I’m sure it was doing the exact opposite. About half way up I was certain that it would be this physical mountain rather than a spiritual or imagined one that would tear us apart. But, in the end there was a triumph with a powerful moral lesson for my daughter. Maybe you can relate in an effort to make me feel better about myself. Have you ever done something as a family you thought at the beginning would be a great bonding moment, only to have it create more frustration than you could have imagined? Good…. I’m already feeling better now that we are on the same level as I describe the climb.
With our guide with us, we all stood optimistic and energized as we stood staring at the great challenge in front of us. In starting out I can remember feeling this might be relatively easy as the first quarter or third of the hike involved walking steadily up an old dirt and wooded road. That thought left my mind the moment we made a left into the woods, confronting a steep incline that was now in front of us. The plan in the beginning was to climb the mountain and have a celebratory lunch together at the summit. A good half an hour or more into the hike, it was apparent that not all of us were going to make the summit; a story many a mountain climber has to tell. I remember the concern I had, standing in my new and muddy sneakers in heavily a wooded area known for its moose and bear, for those turning back; one of whom I was certain was going to be my own daughter Mackenzie.
Facing a steep incline, some had decided it best to turn back, leading to the first of three meltdowns for Mackenzie and I can’t say I blame her. With sore backs and aching legs, the option to turn back was mighty attractive and Mackenzie, through a show of tears was pressing hard to be one of them. With encouragement from those continuing on, as well as some tough love on my part, we were able to persuade her to push on. Approaching the summit, Mackenzie had the second, short lived melt down, where I was blamed for everything an eight-year-old mind could come up with. But, with the thrill of the summit just in front of us, there was no turning back. Whether she realized it at the time or not, she was going to make it to the top and, we did.
In making it to the top Bald Mountain I was again reminded that people do cry tears of joy. In the face of a tough mental and physical battle, we were now standing on the top of the mountain and the outcome was the final of the three meltdowns for my daughter. As the tears flowed down her face, as well as the faces of a few present, we all celebrated. I remember how encouraged we were, not so much for ourselves but for Mackenzie who learned a life lesson that I know she will be able to look back on as a source of strength and encouragement when facing another mountain in her life; spiritual, mental or physical. Thinking on this, I can’t help but reflect on my life as a Christian and the mountains my savior Jesus has lead me to climb. I think of the many starts and stops, the turning back and the pressing on, the tears; the joys, the successes, the failures and how God has used them all to mold me into the man I am today.
In the truth of the gospels we see how faith can impact our view of the mountains we face and our ability to climb or even move them. Jesus states the following in Matthew 17 v 20:
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
In reading the above one can believe that we have the power to move mountains and I do believe this to be true. But, knowing what is outlined in Ephesian 6, the mountains or battles we are most likely to face are not physical ones but are of the spiritual kind; both here and in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6 also indicates that God has made it possible for us to be prepared to win the battles and summit the mountains, giving cause for us to take heart and be encouraged. Romans 8 v 37 – 39 states the following when considering those things that could separate us for God:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The key to living the above scriptures is found back in the words of Matthew 17 v 20, “If you have faith”. If you don’t have faith or don’t know where to get it, I have good news. Faith is a gift from God, as found in Ephesians 2 v 8, so all that is needed is too ask for the greatest portion one can receive and it will be given; with Matthew 7 v 9 – 11 confirming this.
In closing, I pray that in the face of your next mountain, or maybe a mountain you are currently facing, that you will be brave; climbing without hesitation and without fear, with the promises of God and presence of the Holy Spirit secured in your heart. After all, as seen all through the old and new testament, mountains have often been the best place to meet and see the power of God.
God Bless – Sean Bosse