Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Holy Mountain

Sometimes I wonder how much of my energy is spent on making myself comfortable. Is that really what God has designed me to do? Be comfortable?

This afternoon, as I cupped the chamomile and let the bright January sun spill onto the pages of Isaiah, I was struck by the invitation before me:

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths." Isaiah 2:3

This verse speaks of action, not comfort. It asks me to come. I'm not supposed to sit, be idle or pamper myself. I'm supposed to come. And not only am I to come, but once I'm headed in the right direction, I am to go up a mountain. Did you catch that? A mountain. A mountain, people. Generally, mountains tend to be rather . . . large. And tall. And imposing. Rugged, steep, rocky and all that.

So once I've come, I am to hike about on this precipitous geological feature. While there, I'm also invited to learn something. I'm not supposed to focus on the sharp rocks, the sweltering sun, my labored breathing or the blisters on my feet. No, I'm there to learn. At least that's what's implied if the God of Jacob is to teach me His ways. He teaches, that I may learn.

And why do I learn? So that I can walk.

The walking isn't aimless. I am to walk in His paths. Do you know what that means? It means that He has walked the path before me. Because if there's a path, Someone has been there before. The earth has already been trodden by holy, nail scarred feet. The snares have been removed by nail-scarred hands, the boulders have been shoved aside, the pits have been filled in. So I can walk. In His paths, on His mountain.

I climbed a mountain once. It was big. It took all day. My feet ached and I was tired. But by the time I finally reached the summit and peered into the vast emptiness that used to be a peak, I knew that I had been a part of something amazing. I gazed back over the valley below and saw what I can come through. Where I had been. What I had done. And it was remarkable. The view was breathtaking. But I couldn't have done it if I hadn't come, if I hadn't learned, if I hadn't walked.

Caesar boasted, "Veni, vidi, vici" -- I came, I saw, I conquered. Rather ambitious. But that's not what I want. No, I pray that my boast, while still one of action, while still ambitious, is in the Lord and His holy mountain: "I came, I learned, I walked. Because He conquered."

This mountain climbing, it's hard work. It requires steady, ongoing action. It's not for the faint of heart. What's that you say? Your heart feels faint? Oh, pilgrim, fear not! I know exactly how you feel! This climbing isn't supposed to be done alone. Nor is it to be done without periods of true rest. Indeed we have the ultimate source of strength and rest in Christ: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). But as we are refreshed, rested, and made ready for action by His expert training, we'll get a whiff of that fresh mountain air and feel the firm grasp of His hand. And we'll never want to come down again.
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