No Valleys

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Many times I have heard of life with Jesus compared to a mountain range. "Oh," I've heard pastors say, "the Christian life is full of mountain tops and valleys. That is just how life is. Some times we are on this high mountain top where everything seems to be going perfectly, and sometimes we are in those valleys where everything seems to come crashing down."
Well, being the brutally literal self that I am, I find it a more reasonable analogy to compare life to a single mountain.
Not that there is anything wrong with the other analogies, for I am quite fond of literary devices permitting diversity in writing, but this I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and I just thought I would like to share it with you.

I am one person, I have one life, therefore life is one mountain.
The more I think about it this way, the more it makes sense.
Llife with God is a climb up a mountain. First comes the decision to actually climb the mountain, to actually follow Christ, to decide if the mountain is worth climbing. [It's a rather large decision if you think about it. Just to wake up one day and think "Hmm, today I think I'll climb a mountain."]
After the decision has been made to climb the mountain, the journey begins.

In this "One mountain theory," there are no "mountain tops" and "valleys." Well, there is one mountain top; it is the ultimate high and the goal that every follower of Jesus climbs towards... Jesus.
But there are no valleys. Why, you ask?
Just because there are ok valleys doesn't mean that everything is easy. Have you ever climbed a mountain? Have you ever been on a stair-stepper excercise machine for more than 10 minutes? If you have, you know what I'm talking about here.
To me, a valley implies that one has digressed, has fallen down, has failed. While we might slide back down the mountain we are climbing, or perhaps just stop and sit where we are because we are tired, I don't believe that a Christians ever goes into the "valley" on our treks up the mountain.
(Now please remember that this is just my opinion, my analogy--  it is just an analogy to help me and anyone else understand life with Christ. Please do not be offended if I am wrecking someone's Sunday school dreams. I apologize)

Back to the difficulties of climbing a (one, single) mountain. It's hard, guys. Forty-five minutes on an eliptical machine will tell you that much.
Yes, there are some parts of the mountain that are flatter than others, sometimes when there barely seems to be an incline, and sometimes when it is so steep that you need a safety harness and a grappling hook. Well guess what?
We have both of those. It's called Jesus and His Word.

Once we agree to this journey, once we acknowledge that we need more than can be supplied to us at the bottom of the mountain, we are given the Safety Harness and Grappling Hook. However, it can be easy to forget that it's there--until we are in desperate need of it, until life gets so "steep" that we cannot climb any farther without Help.

So, let me clarify, what are we climbing towards? We are climbing towards Jesus, the Author (Initiator) and the Perfector (the Completer) of our faith. Our climbers manual, the Bible--wow, this is getting deep, huh--instructs that we always remember what we are climbing towards, or else the momentary, albeit fleeting, difficulties of climbing might overwhelm us. Because if I don't believe that the rewards waiting for me at the mountain top are completely and utterly glorious, satisfying beyond my wildest dreams, why climb?

There are times when the path that we are suppose to climb is clear, the food is there, there is shelter, the weather is nice, the ground is smooth and pretty flat, yet the times of major growth are found elsewhere. Don't get me wrong-- I relish in those times of spiritual shelter, food, and beautiful weather, those times where I so clearly see God's beauty and I revel in His goodness, but those are times of respite, times of rest that God gives us to store up energy for the time ahead.

And then there are times when your grappling hook and safety harness are all you have, the climb is a strict vertical, your doing the best you can do just to get yourself and inch higher, you've got only half of an apple left, you're starving, the rocks of life have cut you, have bruised you, have rubbed your flesh raw, you are tired, it's getting dark, you can't see, it's pouring down rain, and all you can do is just hang on for dear life.
But, my friend, we still have that Safety Harness and Grappling Hook. We've still got it; we've always got it. It has promised to never leave us and never forsake us. It's always there, holding us up. Without It we would sure fall, but our hope is secure, our lives are secure. We may not have the strength to keep holding on to the Rock but it's always holding on to us.
We have all of the support we will ever need.
Who said mountain climbing was easy? No one, ever. But oh how sweet is the reward at the top of that mountain, when we reach our goal, when we can look down below at what we have come through and behold the beauty of the One who created it all--for us.

God never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that the climb is worth it. It's not only worth it- the prize of life with Him far exceeds any temporary pleasure of complacency at the bottom of the mountain. We were made for adventure, we were made to climb. He promises to equip us with every single thing we would need accomplish what He has for us (Philipians 2:13).

So, despite their good intentions, don't let anyone ever convince you that you are in a valley. Things get "stuck" in valleys; valleys are despairing and hopeless. No, when it's hard, you remember that you are on a vertical. God is strengthening you; He is bringing you closer to Him. The steepest parts of the mountain produce the most gain in elevation.
This journey through life is a climb. But remember, when we start up the mountain, our hope is secure. I am not referring to this idea of mountain-climbing as an analogy of working our ways to heaven, please do not misunderstand me. It is only through Jesus and what He did for us in willingly giving His life that allows us to place our feet on the mountain in the first place. This is an analogy of growth in our relationship with God--just like any other relationship we have, we are trudging and walking and climbing and shoving and desperately seeking to know more of our Creator and what He has for us. How do we do that? We climb the mountain.

Will you join me?

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