I love Long’s Peak. I have pictures of it on my wall, I’ve read books on it and even have it tattooed on my right shoulder. Every day I look to the West and am amazed at how beautiful it is. I never get tired of looking at it. Its majesty is simply beyond words. On occasion when I’ve flown over it, I am proud to think that I’ve stood atop and, if the opportunity arises, may even brag to the passenger in the next seat about that fact. Long’s Peak means much to me and I feel I have a special and personal relationship with it. On my over 30 treks on its trail system, I get amused when I see some of the wanna-be mountain climbers that are ill prepared for the weather or not in good enough shape to enjoy the mountain. Most of them end up back at the parking lot when they’ve had enough “fun.”
I love Jesus Christ. I have pictures of Him on my wall. I’ve read books on Him and even have a cross tattooed on my right shoulder. Every day I look to the mountains and appreciate His creation. The parallels continue, however.
Much like flying over Long’s Peak at 35,000 feet and admiring its majesty, we cannot really say we love the mountain until we experience the grueling 16 hour round trip of climbing it. Then, maybe, we can have the “right” to say we appreciate or even love the mountain. The Christian life is much like climbing Long’s Peak. It looks nice from a distance, yet the physical and mental act of its climb requires a lot.
2 years ago, the Crossroads Peak was pretty cool. The music blarred loud, the messages were really relevant and we could menu drive this Christian experience. We could easily go back to the car if we got cold or if the wind came up and we forgot a coat. No problem. As time went on, our progress on the pathway continued. We went by beautiful water falls, took a bunch of pictures and checked our maps along the way. Being a Jesus Freak was ok.
The Longs Peak trail is a tough one, no doubt. The first section in the tall Ponderosa Pines, however, while steep in places, is pretty easy. Most people can make it to Columbine Falls with little or no trouble. I’ve even seen some people in dress shoes at Columbine Falls! They probably pay for it with a blister or two, but the point is, it’s not that huge of a deal.
Directly after Columbine Falls is a sign post that reads, “Danger! Avoid lightning storms. Take shelter….” Around 200 yards past the falls things change. The trees are gone and the wind is fierce. There are little shelters save some boulders and the next 5 miles are rocky, steep, washed out, exposed to the elements and with a decreasing amount of Oxygen with each step. In our aggregate familial Christian experience, we have hit tree line. And each one of us trekkers has our own set of problems; boots, wet socks, pebbles in the boot, sweat, hunger, thirst, breathlessness, on and on the list goes. We are now in the unique position to make some choices. Unlike the choices made on the Long’s Peak trail, where continuing on despite a snow/hail/thunder storm may be lethal, the continuance of the Christian journey makes all the eternal difference. To retreat to the car back in the safe parking lot is to give up. It’s to say, “I’ve had enough of this trail, let’s go back to the car, turn on some tunes and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.” Such will never know the true meaning of “loving” the mountain. To love the mountain, you must endure it. To endure the mountain makes you stronger and gives you the right to claim it. To endure the Christian experience past treeline requires stamina, strength and faith. To endure it gives you the right to claim you love Christ.
Our family has successfully blown by Columbine Falls. We are actually quite a ways into the treeline trail probably at the Chasm Lake turn out. It’s cold, tough and we know it’s only going to get worse because we can see all kinds of storms brewing atop the peak. But, unlike the casual tourist, we are prepared. We have trained for this hike and we have all of the equipment to keep warm, dry and hydrated. We have the tap into a power source that created the mountain upon which we stand! And we must make the right and intelligent choices. We know right and wrong methods. While we have been at this turn out many times before, we have never been as prepared as we are now. We know it’s going to get worse, but we also know that we love the mountain. Also, Christ is walking with us, that is if we allow Him to do so. I have the confidence that, if I walk with Him, He will direct my paths because He promises that in His Word.
I can honestly and proudly claim that I love Long’s Peak. I have earned the right since I’ve reached the summit 3 times. I have endured the pain and agony of other trips where I turned back and headed to the car because of things beyond my control. Nevertheless, I know that mountain.
I also can honestly and proudly claim that I love the Lord. I know that He walks with me even though the storms of life can be brutal. I may fall, but He will be there to pick me up. I know that as long as I trust in Him, stay close to Him, he’ll guide me to a summit that will give me true and lasting peace, not just a walk up to Columbine Falls. So as our family ventures beyond the treeline, we should expect challenges, falls and even some brief turn backs. But as long as we keep pressing on and keeping into clear focus that beautiful peak, we will be victorious.
Now when I see Long’s Peak, I see my Jesus. Come to think of it, maybe we’re on the Everest Trail…