Have you ever been hiking? I mean, really hiking? Gone up a mountain hiking?
I haven’t done much of it myself but when I did it was worth the effort. Les and I had gone mountain lake fishing in Colorado in mid-September. The snow had begun to gather on the peaks. We were driving around looking for this one lake we wanted to fish and found the trailhead. We parked and gathered our packs and began the 2 mile hike. Along the way we began to question whether this was a good idea. We couldn’t see this lake. How did we know if it would be there? No one was around to tell us for certain the presence of the lake. The map told us it was there and there were signs all around but could we know for sure?
At 11,000 feet we were out of breath and stopped to drink some water. We looked at each other and knew we had to keep going. There really never was a question, but our bodies and our feelings wanted to express opposition. At around 12,000 feet we had no clue how far we had come. We still saw no sign of the lake. Everything ached and we were out of breath. But we knew we had to continue.
Our desire to see the lake and to do what we had come to do was stronger than the desire to quit. We came to what we hoped was a final surge uphill. As we crested the hill what lied before us was absolutely breath-taking! It was at that moment I realized the camera was back at the truck. While I cannot show you what it looked like, I can tell you how wonderful, peaceful, beautiful, and exilherating it was to be there. I guess you will have to climb it yourself to feel that way too.
So it is in the life of a believer and the church. God is calling us to climb the mountain with Him. The only way we will experience the fullness of His blessing and beauty is to follow and reach the journey’s end. Today we stand at the trailhead. Many churches are gearing up for the new church year, late summer/early fall revivals and conferences, and renewed consistency in the people. Every year we stand here. God calls. Will we follow? To make it to the top we must work hard, make concessions, and commit. As the church grows as a family of believers that are spiritually thriving and impacting the culture we do so as God would desire. Like seeing the landscape at the top of the mountain, we shall see the fruit of labor come in the form of increased attendance, increased spiritual development, and increased impact on the community.
What goals do you have? What is the challenge God has laid before you? For us that day it was a 2-mile hike up a mountain. It was difficult to do but the result was worth it all! I have never returned, though I often consider going back. The picture is forever etched in my mind's eye. God is challenging us in the church today to come back to Him. God did everything necessary to get us in the relationship and now it is time we do our part. We must climb out of our pleasure-driven lifestyles and humbly crawl into the presence of God. We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices. Without this sacrifice on our part we will never experience the exhileration and rush of God's presence.
I must climb. We must climb. The church must climb out of yesterday and look toward tomorrow. The air may seem thin and our chests will pound as certain changes take place; looking outward more than inward, service and sacrifice more than selfish desires. We will not be disappointed at the summit.
Today we stand at the trailhead. Let us climb.