Friday, February 19, 2010

Above the Tree Line- My time with God

From my sermon notes on Psalm 24:1-6
1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.5He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  Selah

Ever since I can remember, I have been climbing to the hill tops to see what I can see ...much in the same thoughtful motivation that Thoreau described going to the woods- to live deliberately and learn what life had to teach.  While this is not an unreasonable motivation, my heavenly Father had a different plan.  He has used these journeys "above the tree-line" to draw me near to himself and grow my relationship with Him.  Whether in solitude and silent meditation kissing my face with blistering wind, or in the fellowship of brothers and encouragement of friends striving together for a summit, my experiences on the mountains have driven me to grow....I realize that these endeavors are not for everyone and certainly these moments of mental altitude are not the necessary ingredient for spiritual growth and sanctification.  We know from scriptures that the word of God is sufficient, sharp****  
Nonetheless, On these remote summits, much has happened to me to the point of building myself an Ebenezer in the front yard of my last house, an alter similar to the time in Israel to mark a place where God had done something in their the mountains, these similar looking piles of stones are called cairns and exist to help the mountaineer from getting lost in a storm, to remind them of the right path. They are resilient to the test of time, wind, and everything harsh in the alpine environment... in a similar mode to God’s Holy Word- the just holds up.
  These journeys are often not easy and I think if they were, I probably would not pursue them.  Much like many things in my life, I tend to choose the harder road. But in the words of another pastor-I sometimes think of learning about God by studying the Bible as like climbing a mountain. It's hard work, but the higher up you get, the more impressive and amazing the view is 
When we first become Christians, we are presented with a decision to pursue a specific route- the Christian life and count the cost of that trail.  Sometimes our friends and family, our professors and roommates, will scoff and mock our decision.  Many occasion have come about where doubting eyes and discouraging words  have been thrown my way by both my pursuit of the Christian walk as well as my attempt on the mountain summits.  Admittedly, I am not the most accomplished mountaineer, I have never firsted an unknown peak to name it after myself.  In fact, much of my decision making and achievements in the mountaineering community would be considered over-conservative, clumsy, or at worst mediocre. 
   Perhaps the ridicule I, and others, receive in our Christian walk is a byproduct of our attempt to be authentic and relevant...we can’t hide our stumbles.  I have never claimed to be the best climber and my Christian walk is a far cry from perfect.  Sometimes our walks with God are slow and we can't see where we are going. Like on the mountain, sometimes we can't see the summit due to darkness, snow, and the slope of the mountain. But we know that the rim is somewhere above us. It's not going anywhere. We just need to continue on...,keep running the race.  I have never been particularly introspective about why I climb. Part of the reason could be the challenge, both physical and mental, as well as the beauty of God’s creation. I do know that when I am in the wilderness, I can see and feel the glory of God easier. In His wisdom, and in these places, God teaches me about Himself and my journey with Him. That is why I keep returning to the mountains.
Through out the Bible we can see God meeting men on the summits of mountains to accomplish His will for their lives and glorify Himself.  Through these saints that have gone before us, we can have encouragement in our own walk..much like the mountaineer coming down from the summit and encouraging those coming up the trail....come on young lad, keep it up, don’t look down, strive on, keep running the race.  And Just like a good topographic map to outline the route before us, God’s Holy Word shows us the path we are too take..  In my next update, I will complete these thoughts as I hope to prepare for an upcoming God be the glory!

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