Recently, while going through some pictures from my travels, I found one taken many years ago on a trip to Scotland. Accompanied by some friends on this trip, I climbed my first mountain. It was not a big mountain by some climber’s standards, but to me, it might as well have been Mount Everest. I was excited as we began our ascent but halfway up I made the mistake of looking down. I froze. The ground we had left behind looked so small and I realized that one slip or false move would not end well for me; fear was setting in. Above me, I heard the encouraging voices of my friends who were beaconing me to climb, to shift my eyes, my focus upward. So with as much courage as I could find, I began to climb, one small move at a time. Once we reached the top I turned around and looked out. What I saw was breathtaking. I was in awe of what God had created for me to see and to find joy in. It was well worth the effort to get to the place where I could see and experience it.
There is something you should know about this particular mountain climb. You see, on the backside of this mountain, there is an actual footpath that winds its way up the mountain; an easy route up to the top. However, my friends and I chose to go straight up the face of the mountain. Though much of my body hurt by the time we got to the top, the exhilaration coursing through me was tenfold compared to what it would have been if we had taken the easy way. As I looked back on this experience it made me think of Caleb in the Bible and how he asked God to give him the mountain area as his inheritance once in the Promised Land (Joshua 14:12). It was still occupied by the enemy so Caleb would have to take a risk to claim it, but he knew it would be well worth the battle to conquer it in the end. He knew that he would have to meet the challenge before him in God’s strength and power, so his eyes were focused upward, confident that God would never fail him. Why would he want the mountain areas instead of the lush green fields for his inheritance? Well, when you think about it, the mountains provide protection from invasion. The water supply that flows from the mountains is typically cleaner and cooler, perfect for livestock. More than this though, Caleb wanted to stay connected and dependent on God. He knew that the challenges of conquering the mountain areas would require him to walk closely with God. Did I mention that Caleb was 85 years old when he asked for the mountain? As scripture tells us, Caleb “wholly followed the Lord God of Israel (Josh. 14:14). Caleb wanted to keep growing in his faith even at an age of 85 and what better way to do that than facing challenges together?
Sometimes we would prefer to ask God for the green, lush pastures in our life instead of asking for the mountains. We would prefer to have an easy footpath in life without the risks and stresses of hard work but the rewards will not be as “breathtaking.” With an easy life, we become complacent and self-dependent, forgetting our need for God, which can lead to nowhere but disaster. Asking for the mountains is asking God for the challenges in life that strengthen us, that develops our character, and produces endurance (Romans 5:3-4). Those challenges are what encourages us to keep our eyes on Him so we don’t become paralyzed with fear. Those challenges deepen our faith walk as we climb through life. Climbing the mountains of life is hard and can be painful, but oh what the rewards will be when you reach the pinnacle! It does not matter how old you are when faced with a climb, we can still conquer them through faith in the power of Jesus Christ. It will not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Do you have enough courage to ask God for the mountain?