When challenges come our way and obstacles rise like an impassable mountain range, it can be easy to feel we cannot possibly consider ascending through the mountains and seeking passes to the other side. Mountains can be places of great beauty as well as formidable sentinels obstructing where we would most like to go.
Over the years of vacation travel, our family has been blessed to see a variety of landscapes, historical sites, spectacular cities and events, but we are always drawn to the mountains. Something about their beauty and strength pulls us toward their location whenever we look ahead to our next time away.
Perhaps it is our enjoyment of trekking on the trails and discovering the wild flowers tucked into crevices or high meadows not accessible from a roadway. It could be the conversation my husband and I have as we make our way along the path that adds to the treasure trove of memories of other mountain paths.
One reason is undoubtedly the view that comes from climbing above the plain where we live. It can alter perspectives on the daily grind or the unsolved issue plaguing us as well as inspire us and remind us of our Creator.
A climb through the mountains requires a heightening of senses as well. The trail can take unexpected twists and turns or be clogged with a fallen tree. The mountains are also home to many animals we do not find on the plains below. These paths go through their home, their habitat, and they are not sure we are safe.
Wildlife both small and large can be closer than we think in rocky caves we do not see or heavy forested areas filled with shadows. I will never forget one mountain hike where we came upon a slightly muddy area with a clear fresh paw print in the mud. Whether it was a bear or a mountain lion, we do not know but it gave us pause and a reminder that it is better to make noise on the trail rather than to surprise a creature that was not expecting company.
To travel into the mountains requires consideration of the food and water you will need on the trip (even if it is only an hour or two). You won’t find a Starbucks, hamburger shop, or ice cream stands to provide refreshment.
If all of these things are true about actual mountains, why do we forget these very truths apply to other mountains we face as well?
Challenges (a.k.a. mountains) can tempt us to believe we are blocked from movement. We can be persuaded to believe they are impassable and so powerful they will undo us and we sit at the bottom feeling hopeless.
Other times we can decide to charge right up the path without adequate preparation for the trek. Do we have proper shoes, clothing, water, food, a compass, rain gear, and more?
We are not called to cower on the mountains nor to be confined to the plains.
Mountains have much to offer, much to teach us about them, God, and ourselves. They can seem as though nothing is stronger nor impregnable than they are, but that points to what we don’t know about mountains.
“Where there’s a mountain, there’s always a river flowing nearby. Ultimately the river is the more powerful of the two.”