“The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go”

John Muir 

My last post had a summary of my past three years of hiking with my brother. I am going to share to a couple of thoughts that came to mind during this last trip.

One of the trails that we were on is called the New Army pass. The trail is 15 miles long and passes by five different lakes. The trail begins in the forest, then passes by lakes, and eventually ends at the top of a mountain pass. Right before you ascend the mountain peak you walk through a valley with mountains on both sides. From a distance, you cannot tell if there is a path through the mountains, or if it continues over the mountain. As we got closer, I told my brother, I think we are going over the mountain. A small pathway appeared which we climbed to the top, which stands at 12,400 ft. The ascension up the mountain is not too steep and you get breathtaking views of the lakes behind. A thought came to my mind as we climbed to the top and we looked out into the distance. Sometimes the only way through the valley is climbing over the mountain one step at a time. My life feels like that sometimes, I am stuck in a valley, and I do not know where to go. Then it feels like I have a mountain to climb over, one step at a time. Arriving past the valley to the mountaintop gives you a moment to reflect, to look where you came from, to enjoy the momentary accomplishment, and to get ready to keep moving. Life is neither lived always in the valley or the mountaintop, but somewhere in between. 

The second thing I remember from this trip was the lesson God taught me about the fulfillment of my desires and plans. Our end goal was to arrive at the top of Mt. Langley, which stands just over 14,000 ft. We were on our way when we got to the top of New Army Pass. We left the path to follow a trail that was supposed to connect to Mt. Langley but ended up being an unmarked and confusing path over a couple of mountain ranges. When we backtracked to the right path, we realized that the path we were supposed to be on was on the other side of the New Army Pass! We ended up climbing another couple of miles toward Mt. Langley and then turned back since it was so late in the day. Our return was at least four hours, and we did not want to hike back in the dark. Something about the “active bear zone” sign at the beginning was a concern! I admit, I was disappointed that we did not get to the peak. I was looking forward to the peak of Mt. Langley, to check off my list another 14er. I had trained all year for this, and I am in the best shape of my life in my 40’s, by God’s grace. I have taught many times that the Bible tells us to hold all our plans with an open hand, for sometimes God changes those plans. There are times when plans do not work out and desires go unfulfilled, and we need to respond in humility (James 4:13-17). There are times when I like the truth of God’s Word in theory, but in practice, it is much harder to live out. In a fallen world there is fulfillment and disappointment, happiness and sadness, success, and failure. It is good for my soul to remember that sometimes I do not get what I want, but God is still good, and I can be thankful. Sometimes God teaches lessons that only come by experience. 

On this trip, I had the valley and the mountaintop experience, both literally and spiritually.  

Amos 4:13 “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth-the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!”  

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