I shared in my last blog about my “annual pilgrimage” up to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier. It is a brutal nine-mile trek uphill through rock and snow. At the same time, it is an intensely “spiritual experience”. There seem to be spiritual and biblical lessons that are highlighted with every step. One scripture is particularly appropriate:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14; NKJ)
When you are making the trek to Muir, about halfway up the slope you will leave the clear trails and step on to the snowfield. I wear crampons which help some with traction on the icy surface. But the real challenge is the thin air that leaves you gasping for breath. I find, in the rarified air, I tend to lose the ability to think about anything in depth and still keep climbing. As I try to engage my mind with anything substantial, my legs will simply stop moving! So, to trick myself by counting steps. I tell myself that I have to take 100 steps before I can rest. Sometimes I don’t even make the 100 before I just have to stop and get my breathing and heartrate under control. My only consolation is that everyone else within sight across the miles of snowfield is in the same boat!
Your brain screams at you repeatedly to give up! One of the most difficult aspects of being on the snowfield, is that you must watch carefully where you place each step. Because you are looking down, blinding white fills your vision. When you think you have traveled some significant distance, you look up, only to see snow stretching endlessly upwards. “Quit,” your body tells you. “Quit,” your brain tells you.
But finally, after an eternity of trudging, you look up, and at last, catch a glimpse of the camp! Camp Muir is a collection of rock buildings constructed across a saddle ridge above the Cowlitz Glacier. The camp is certainly not going to win any architectural awards; but from a distance it looks like nothing less the the Castle of Cair Paravel! “The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered up above them.” (C.S.Lewis; The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)
When the afternoon sun strikes it right, the walls glow with a glory that reminds you of nothing less than the gates of Heaven. That glimpse is enough. Your energy is restored. Your purpose is renewed. And you press on.
There is a great life lesson. So much of the world drags us down. Our field of sight is filled with the mundane, trivial, routine. It is the slog of life that drags our vision down. We begin to ask: Why strive for excellence? Why strive for Godliness? Why try to make a difference?
That is where we need a fresh vision of the goal! We need a fresh vision of the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom. I am convinced that much of the weakness in modern Christendom is because we have lost sight of what heaven represents. It is not floating around as a disembodied spirit strumming a harp on a cloud. Could anything be more unappealing than that diabolical idea? That sterile vision of heaven is absolutely nothing like what actually awaits the people of God! What awaits us is not only heaven, but a new redeemed earth; an earth that will make the greatest glories of this earth seem like dim, blurred, black and white photos! What awaits us are new glorified bodies of unimaginable health, power, and splendor! Think of Jesus’ glorified resurrection body; the scripture promises that we will be like Him! What awaits us is an eternity of joy far in the very presence of God beyond our current physical capacity to contain, or even comprehend!
Are you exhausted from the uphill struggle of life? Do you wrestle just to take one more step toward any worthwhile goal? Do you wonder if the effort in your marriage, your parenting, church, your work is worth it?
My prayer today is that you look up! That you catch a glimpse of the Gates of Heaven! That you see the prize of Glory in Christ that calls to you! That you are renewed in your strength and that you will with the Apostle Paul and all the Saints – reach forward and press on!
Blessings in Christ!