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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mountain climbers don't skirt the mountain

If you have ever climbed a mountain, you know there are times when you get so out of breath you just don't think you are going to make it any further. The stress of going up that additional altitude just puts a strain on you that your body takes a while to adjust to, even for the most "conditioned" climber. The fact that we have climbed a mountain before doesn't always prepare us for the next great peak we must scale. Every climb can and will be slightly different, even when we traverse the same mountain again!

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
 enabling me to stand on mountain heights. (Psalm 18:32-33 NLT)


We are always going to be faced with things in this lifetime that seem to be as immovable mountains - the only way to move past them is either to walk the long, long way around them, or climb the hard climb to get over them. There is something magnificent that happens in the climb, though, that we don't actually find when we just choose to "skirt" the perimeter of the mountain. We don't get the newness of differing perspectives. On the ground, at the base of the mountain, the view of the mountain may appear different as we skirt the great expanse of its base, but we still don't have the advantage of "higher perspective".

You have heard the old saying that we cannot see the tree for the forest. If we never climb the mountain, we get bogged down in the details of what we "can" perceive, and we never get to a different perspective that could alter our perception. I think mountains come into our path because God wants to change our perspective - to help us see the beauty of the wood within those trees, or that there is much, much more in life all around us that we don't see because we are so focused on the "tree" issue in front of us. Yes, the climb to actually come into that "new perspective" is hard. Yes, it is going to challenge what is within us. Yet...if we stay where we are, or settle for skirting the base of the issue looming over us, we will never see what God sees!

The largest perspective comes as we move from the broad base of the mountain-like issue into the smaller areas at the peak of that issue - the more we "take on" the mountain, the less we see of the mountain and the more we see of what lies way beyond the base of that huge issue that stood in our way. Those who make it to the peak see very clearly that the real issue is usually something far different than what they perceived at the base of that mountain! Some of our hardest climbs bring us to the best understanding of the real issues we need to deal with in life!

We don't climb blindly, though. We prepare for the climb, but we don't spend endless hours and days and weeks and months just preparing. At some point, we stop skirting the base of the mountain-like issue and we just take the first steps upward. This takes a degree of faith, believing that when the climb gets us into tight spaces or tough territory to navigate, we will be as sure-footed as the deer continuing that climb! If you have ever tried to walk around a mountain-like issue, you just find there are other mountain-like issues behind that first mountain you didn't appreciate as there because you couldn't see them! When you climb the first mountain, you soon see where it is you need to navigate in order to make the journey in the least and more "productive" amount of time! 

Overcomers don't skirt the mountain - the take on the mountain, ascending into the heights until their perspective of the mountain and what lies beyond it changes enough for them to move beyond it! Just sayin!