You don’t just get out of bed and climb a mountain. There are so many things that you have to plan for and have right in order to accomplish a crazy feat like that, otherwise you could be forced to turn around or even be putting your life in danger.
I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine last week by being able to go to Colorado and climb some real mountains with my best friends. I’ve done some hiking before, but I knew that climbing a 14er (14,000 feet and up) would be a whole new challenge. First off, the altitude change is quite drastic for a guy from Illinois, arguably the flattest state in the country. Altitude sickness? Check. It was frustrating because all I wanted to do was climb mountains but my body literally wouldn’t let me that first day. The next major challenge was the lack of oxygen at that elevation. I was literally out of breath after taking a drink of water if I didn’t stop. The pace started fast and slowed down the higher that we went. I really appreciated the encouragement from my friends, because it was discouraging being out of breath so fast and also occasionally experiencing nausea. On top of it all, we were hiking for 6+ hours straight up 3000+ feet: exhausted. We had to be in pretty decent shape at least if we had any hope of summiting. It took a lot of perseverance to finally reach the peak of two 14ers by the end of the week, but man was it ever worth it! I’ll treasure those moments for the rest of my life as well as being able to experience that with my best friends.
As I was hiking, I couldn’t help but notice how climbing mountains has so many connections to the rest of life. Getting to the peak was my goal for the moment, but what are my goals in life? Where’s the finish line?
I really can’t put my hopes in earthly things. What good is that? I know that one day I’ll die. Everything here is passing. Example! Babe Ruth hit a lot of home runs. But what good does that do him now? He’s dead, and it’s the eternal things that he has to worry about now. Sold? Ok, good.
Eternal goals. You know, like heaven. I promise that it’s where you want to be. We have such a great God in that He promises us eternal life with Him if we only carry our cross and follow Him. This is an active choice. We can’t just sit around our whole life doing nothing. It won’t work in climbing a mountain, and it sure as heck isn’t what Jesus had in mind. He calls us all to Himself, to follow Him as disciples who give up everything to follow Him. We can’t just assume that no matter how many times that we deny Him, we’ll still somehow be able to join Him in heaven. Jesus is our true treasure in life… forget popularity, success, cars, and all that! And like any other treasure, to reach Him we need to train ourselves and make sacrifices in order to gain Him.
In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus points this out very clearly:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
In order to climb a mountain, I needed support from my friends, training, and the right gear. It wasn’t a cakewalk. In a similar way, there is nothing that we should not be willing to give up in order to reach the kingdom of heaven and bring it forth in our everyday lives. Reaching the kingdom of God doesn’t simply make us “good people”, but it makes us who we were meant to be, fully human!
Standing at the top of the mountain, I was able to look out for miles and miles in order to see how beautiful the world is. Can you imagine just how much more glorious God is compared to that and how worth it that will be one day?