Sunday, January 27, 2008
CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
Moses... came to Horeb, the mountain of God... God ... said, '...the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'
Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo... And the Lord showed him all the land.
The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, 'Thus you shall... tell the people of Israel: You have seen... how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself.'
The glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain.
Jesus took [them] and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun.
A cloud... overshadowed them... And a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my son, my chosen... listen to him.'
God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.
Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
He said to them, 'Follow me'.
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains.
(Exodus 3:1 and 5; Deuteronomy 34: 1; Exodus 19: 3; Ezekiel 11: 23; Matthew 17: 1-2; Luke 9: 35; Acts 2: 36; Hebrews 12: 1-2; Matthew 4: 19; Isaiah 2:2 -- all RSV)
One of the recreations of urban dwellers is to go for a long drive into the country, or to the mountains. Do you find, as I do, that it is restful for the eyes to have an occasional long view, instead of the shorter, limited view of suburbia? We need these times to break away from the routine of family life, of business life, of church life, and to take a long view, an overview of our total lifestyle. Have my priorities of time been wisely allotted? Have I made enough time for communication with my spouse, my children, my parents -- my Lord? Was that distur bance in my life so cataclysmic or, when viewed from the mountains, is it possible that God was shaking my earth just slightly so he could have more of my attention?
Think of some mountain-top experiences from scripture -- Abraham, called to give his son, but the Lord's promise, 'I will provide'; Moses, terrified at being called to a new responsibility and the Lord's promise, 'I will be with you'; Jesus, on Mount Hermon, on the way to probable death, experiencing transfiguration and being affirmed by his Father that the way. of the cross was the way that led to glory; the disciples on Mount Olivet who were assured by the ascending Christ of his power through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to follow the steps of the Master up whatever mountain he has chosen for us. A man climbed a mountain as far as he could, then he marked the place, and returned, exhausted. On bewailing his misfortune a wise listener reminded him that each climber who makes a path and leaves markers makes it easier for the next people to go further.
May we each faithfully climb our particular mountain, making paths for others to follow which will lead them to higher peaks. Then may we have compassion on those who are hemmed in by the valleys of spiritual shortsightedness, limited by boulders of self-centredness, trapped by the forest of an unforgiving spirit. May we be empowered by the spirit of unconditional love, taking to others the message of a new view of life, seen from the mountain of the Lord.
Christ of the upward way My guide divine, Where thou hast set thy feet May I place mine; And move and march wherever thou hast trod, Keeping face forward up the hill of God.
Walter John Mathams
When you begin to pray aright you are on an ascending path. It will carry you to even greater heights, but as you climb you will become increasingly aware of your own littleness and of the immensity of the prospect. You will see your surroundings in relation to a higher heaven and a more distant horizon: mountains of difficulty will sink to molehills, ways will appear where no way declared itself and the sources of many streams be revealed.
Hugh Redwood, Practical Prayer
If one wants to climb mountains one must have a good base camp, a place where there are shelter and provisions, where one may receive nurture and rest before one ven tures forth again to seek another summit. Successful mountain climbers know that they must spend at least as much time, if not more, in tending to their base camp as they actually do in climbing mountains, for their survival is dependent upon their seeing to it that their base camp is sturdily constructed and well stocked.
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled
I have often felt that my life was rather akin to mountaineering, with a clear goal to reach the highest peak. There may be a fairly long journey to reach the foothills before the real climb can be started. On the way up, the goal is often hidden from view by clouds, or by lesser peaks, but the original sight of the summit keeps us pressing on, despite weariness and even discouragement.
As I went down from the present peak into the valley between the mountains, I was often shadowed by the very peak I was enjoying. This I interpreted in a sense of failure and this often led to despair... I see now I was wrong... The going down was merely an initial moving forward towards the next higher ground.
Helen Roseveare, Give Me This Mountain
There is a path of service in which I would lead you where the grass is green, the pastures verdant. No foot has preceded you there. It is virgin territory. You shall walk with me because there is none other gone before to mark the way.
0 my child, you have crossed a bridge. Reach not back. Move on ahead and press into the fullness of all I have prepared for you. It is the blossoming of that which long ago was planted and for many years has been nurtured. It is waiting for you to step forward and receive.
As I have told you so often, keep your heart fixed on me. Only thus will you have the needed stamina to keep your own soul from falling into discouragement. Only by my power will you be able to stand. Focus on my footsteps.
Frances Roberts, On the Highroads of Surrender
How do you spot a miracle? Just look for a mountain. Look for a problem or a difficulty, because often the first way God reaches us is in a moment of pain.
Trouble never leaves you where it found you. It changes you, permanently. It either makes you bitter and tough and hard and cold and angry, or it'll turn you into a soft, gentle, compassionate, understanding, generous human being.
You know, if you've got a problem, I predict it's the beginning of a miracle, because what is the reason for mountains that God lets us run into? Some mountains are there to block us so that we won't run madly ahead and get ourselves in trouble. If a mountain is there to keep us from going into enemy territory, then the mountain indeed has been turned into a miracle.
Robert Schuller, Living Positively
She perceived that no-one who finds herself up on the slopes of the Kingdom of Love can possibly dogmatise about what is seen there, because it is only then that she comprehends how small a part of the glorious whole she sees. All she can do is to gasp with wonder, awe and thanksgiving, and to long with all her heart to go higher and to see and understand more. Paradoxical as it may seem, as she gazed out on dazzling vistas, so glorious that she could not look at them steadily or grasp their magnificent sweep, she often thought that the prayer which best expressed her heart's desire was that of the blind man, 'Lord, that I might receive my sight! Help me to open myself to more light. Help me to a fuller understanding'.
Hannah Hurnard, Hind's Feet on High Places, an allegory of a girl, formerly crippled, now walking on the High Mountains
Enlarge thou me in love, that with the inward palate of my heart I may taste how sweet it is to love, and to be dissolved and, as it were, to bathe myself in thy love.
Let me be possessed by love, mounting above myself, through excessive fervour and admiration.
Let me sing the song of love, let me follow thee, my beloved, on high; let my soul spend itself in thy praise, rejoicing through love.
Let me love thee more than myself, nor love myself but for thee; and in thee all that truly love thee, as the law of love commandeth, shining out from thyself.
Thomas a Kempis
Lord, forgive me for being blinded so often by the pressures of this world. Open my eyes so that I can see the mountain path up which you are calling me. Help me to keep my eyes on the risen Christ who knows the way I take and will never leave me comfortless. Thank you for your knowledge of me, of my gifts, of my dreams and for the way in which you incorporate them into your greater plans for your kingdom. Lord, I want to keep my eyes on the glistening peaks of your perfect will and your perfect love. I give myself to you again, for you to use on the mountains or in the valleys, as a guide or as a rescuer, as a sweeper of the paths or keeper of the rest-houses.
I praise you, Lord. I stretch out to reach you -- and find that you are there, ready to hold my hand. I praise and worship you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever. Amen.
Rowland Croucher, ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, chapter 45