I hiked a local mountain yesterday with my parents and the whole time we climbed I kept thinking about how faith is a lot like hiking a mountain, and how hiking a mountain is the perfect metaphor for my life this last week.
The first part of the hike was the hardest - convincing ourselves and encouraging one another to keep putting one foot in front of the other, fighting gravity to reach the summit. Once we reached the summit the views were beautiful and the wildlife we saw was awe inspiring. I was the closest to a hummingbird as I have ever been and the way the sun glinted off its feathers was a gorgeous example of the beauty of God's creation. Getting to the top, seeing what was there, made all of that early effort worthwhile. But, much like in our journeys of faith, reaching the top didn't mean that our struggles were over. We had to consistently nourish ourselves with water to avoid dehydration. We had to be careful where we stepped to avoid tripping over rocks and tree roots. There were times when the trail ascended even higher up the mountain and we needed to expend a bit more energy to keep going. But, each vista point was lovely, and the view from the top never got stale.
I defended my Master's thesis on Wednesday, and the entire experience was much like the first part of the hike. It was harder than I anticipated, but there were people to encourage me along the way, and the view from the other side, after having passed, was worth the struggle. However, I find that passing doesn't mean my struggle is over. Now I have to nourish myself with the Word, with the living water Jesus promises, to keep moving forward. I have to be careful where I step to avoid stumbling blocks and other ways the Enemy seeks to trip me up as I attempt to walk the path God has laid before me. I know that the journey won't always be easier just because one milestone is behind me. I know that God will continue to challenge me, to expand and strengthen my faith. I also know, however, that the view from the top of the mountain of faith is worth the struggle and that the view will never grow old. So long as I can view my life through the lens of faith, the effort that is required will be fruitful.
What mountains are you hiking in your life today?
In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.