Strength. Grace. Beauty. Humility. Struggles. Hope. Perseverance. Overcoming. Dreams. Courage. Unknowns.
I grew up in Virginia. Right near a mountain range referred to as the “Blue Ridge Mountains” But I didn’t realize the magnitude and significance mountains played in my life until I was fighting to simply survive 3-4 years ago.
It was through my struggles that I discovered my greatest strengths and passions. It was through my fighting, screaming, struggling, but also through my courage, perseverance, and my hope that I came to realize and truly believe that the God who is the God of our peaks and our winning battles is also the same God who is the God of our valleys – our lowest lows.
There is beauty in the slopping lines, the unpredictable dips and curves – sometimes ridges and cliffs that we view when looking at a mountain range. There is beauty to be found in the sweat rolling down our faces when we reach it to the top – the exhaustion finally sets in, but we have a sense of accomplishment at all we have overcome. But there is also equal beauty to be found when we are standing at the foot of the mountain, broken dreams scattered all around us – but a God-given sense of determination welling up inside of us, providing us with the bravery we need to face the climb before us.
Mountains taught me that in my weakness, I can find strength in Jesus.
Mountains taught me that when I am out of breath and can barely stand, I can stand strong on Jesus’ word.
Mountains taught me that when I can’t even fathom taking one more step, I am allowed to ask for help from others.
Mountains taught me that when I don’t feel worthy of the view from the top, I am leading others to Jesus by turning the glory of that beautiful view over to him and honoring His name through it.
Mountains taught me that my faith is far bigger than my fears, despite all the obstacles Satan places in my way; no matter how many times I stumble during the upward climb.
Mountains taught me that I may take 3 steps forward and 5 steps back, but I will always have the glory of Christ ahead of me, a heavenly home to look forward to and to encourage me to get back up and keep trucking on.
Mountains taught me that the beauty isn’t only to be viewed from the top of the highest peak – the beauty I constantly all around me – no matter where I am on the journey.
Mountains taught me that there is no shame in my human weakness – in getting tired and needing to pause. There is no shame in needing help with the climb. There is no shame in needing to rest, because it is never a race to the top – we are all climbing different mountains and we climb at different rates.
I used to stand at the base of a mountain and feel defeated. The prospect of the upward climb and the battle before me felt overwhelming and I entered into the journey with a sense of defeat, no confidence, and an extreme self awareness of every part of me that I saw as being flawed or imperfect. I would cringe at every turn in the path before me, I would cower in fear at the unknown. I would spend the majority of my energy trying to run and hide – to be perfect in my outward appearance….a if the climb were easy for me (not realizing at the time that it’s not easy for ANYONE regardless of their mountain!!).
In fighting for my life, I was forced to slow down – forced to reassess my values, my beliefs…everything about my life and about myself. My sins and my perceptions of myself and the world around me were weighing me down and making each and every step up the mountain one filled with extreme effort, pain, and exhaustion. I didn’t believe that I could make it up alive – most times I didn’t believe I could live through the next 24 hours.
Here’s the thing about the mountains though – we’re never actually done climbing them. We never truly reach the top. We may reach and overpass or a beautiful view and pause to enjoy it, but the minute we believe we’ve reached the top, another obstacle pops up and it’s time to start climbing again. For most of my life I’ve been climbing thinking that I was headed towards a specific destination and that once I reached that spot, I would be done climbing because I would have “arrived.”
I know better now. I know that I climb mountains not in my own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. I know that I am not climbing with the intent of reaching the top for my own glory – but for the Glory of the Almighty King. I am better able to cling to hope as I embark on each new climb and each new challenge because I know that I don’t need to rely on myself – but on Jesus Christ.
It’s never easy. And we never truly reach the top. We are always climbing a mountain of some sort – some smaller, some larger, some take years whereas some take hours.
Another reason I love mountains is because I feel like they keep my life in perspective – all the reasons I listed above but also because they make me feel small. When I stare at mountains or even when I stand at the top of one overlooking forests or other mountains, I feel like I am so small in such a large world. It blows my mind how magnificent this earth is and that our Savior made this all for us!!! We don’t need these wonderful views and breathtaking moments in nature in order to survive – He very easily could have given us the bare minimum and we never would have known the difference. But He didn’t. He went above and beyond to create a beautiful (and temporary) world for us to reside in and experience. Taste buds, sound, sights, smells, textures, all the colors of the leaves surrounding us, the flowers that grow out of the ground each spring, the sound of children’s laughter, the beautiful music we get to listen too and create – I could go on and on and on.
As I’m typing this up, I’m reflecting on so many things. I keep glancing down at my wrist where I permanently placed the beautiful reminder of the impact of mountains.
The Blue Ridge Mountains.
My home – where I grew up in VA.
Memories of hikes and exploring with my parents and the various dogs we’ve had.
Long, winding drives – all the times I pulled over to sing a worship song with my hands lifted up to the heavens while gazing out across the glorious, beautiful creation our Savior gifted us.
The journey – the climb(s). All the things I’ve fought, overcome, fought again, and continue fighting.
The solidity and permanence of Christ – His strength, solitude, comfort, and courage.
The constant reminder that, more than anything – God’s not done with me…regardless of wounds, scars, and my constant falling apart.
God is bigger than our biggest struggles. God has already won the battle we’re fighting. God will provide us the strength to make it up the mountain we’re climbing. And then the next and the next and the next,
God’s not done writing our stories. So, put on your hiking boots and journey out into the wilderness with confidence and hope. Enjoy the view from the top, but don’t get comfortable because there is always more to come.