Spiritual Summitting

Exhausting. Exhilarating. Challenging. Worth every step of the process! While these are actually the words I would use to describe my climb to the top of the Twin Sisters peak here in Colorado yesterday (11,402 foot elevation), it seems to me that they also work really well to describe the journey of the

Twin Sisters Peak

Twin Sisters Peak

spirit. (Before exploring this intriguing parallelism, let me digress a bit by saying that I think this mountain is mis-named. While it is true that there are two peaks, very close to one another of roughly the same elevation, they are no more twins than my brother Alan and me. Even at a distance – as you can see here – they look nothing alike whatsoever. So I am today officially beginning my lobbying campaign with the National Park Service to change the name of this mountain to Two Sisters, Bearing a Striking Tho’ Not Identical Resemblance to One Another. Long name, but technically much more accurate.)

Anyway, back to the central point; the similarities and differences between the mountain trail and the spiritual journey. In each case, the beginning steps are filled with the excitement of anticipating the adventure ahead. Your gear is all secure, your sunscreen has been applied, and you are ready to launch off to discover vast new vistas. This excitement lasts for a significant part of the journey and is soon replaced by a sense of tediousness and monotony and the inevitable question, “Are we there yet?” You know that you have come too far to turn around and go back, but you soon begin to think that the destination is impossibly far away. You weary, trying desperately to rekindle the enthusiasm you had at the trailhead.

Vital to both the spiritual journey and the mountain climb is the ability to observe regular rest and refreshment stops along the way. It absolutely IS God who calls us to the spiritual trail and God who gives us the energy to embark on the journey, but we play a part, too. Just as our God is a “both/and” God who creates and redeems by collaboration, so also is the journey toward sanctification a “both/and” undertaking. We work WITH God, attuning and responding to the urgings of the spirit as we seek to grow in Christlikeness. And every now and then, we need to stop on the trail, take a drink of water, and assess our position.

We should not undertake either one of these journeys without companions and guides. They are the ones who encourage us when we want to quit, who point out the wonders along the path that we might otherwise miss and who are there to help us read the map and determine our next steps. As American Express might have said some years ago, “Don’t leave home without them.”

The reward for us at the summit of the peak formerly known as Twin Sisters was a spectacular view. Long’s Peak, the highest in the Rockies to the north, the entire Estes Valley to the west, faint outlines of Boulder, CO to the south. 360 degrees of majesty all around us. And in a way, that is a great description of the reward of scaling the spiritual summits, too. Not a view of the Colorado countryside, but certainly a perspective that allows you to consider a larger, fuller, more complete perspective on what the awesome adventure of life has to offer. It strikes me that in the deepest depths of our sin, perspective is often the first casualty. I am no longer able to see anything but that which is two inches in front of my nose. The sum total of my awareness revolves around that which only affects ME. When Jesus tells his disciples in the farewell discourse, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:12-13) he is calling them to embrace God’s perspective. The human perspective calls us to consider our own lives as the ultimate value worth protecting. God’s perspective says just the opposite.

Come. Respond to God’s call to scale the spiritual summits. Bring a friend or two. And don’t neglect to take nourishment along the way.

Be Blessed.

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