climb-a-mountainWe all crave those illusive mountaintop experiences, but few of us are willing to do the hard work of climbing to the top. I have discovered this is true in my life and in the lives of a great many others. Those of my generation and younger have grown up in an age of fast food, microwaves, and instant gratification. Waiting is not something we want to do and often are not willing to do. Delayed gratification seems like a form of torture. We’d prefer things be given to us, preferably gift wrapped, rather than having to plan hard, pray hard, and work hard.

Most of us were not born heirs to incredible family fortunes. Even fewer of us received substantial trust funds once we turned 18. For the vast majority of us, achievements came at a high cost. We had to invest a lot of time and sweat equity. We had to deal with setbacks and even opposition. We had to push through even when we were tired and felt like giving up, but the opportunity to achieve and improve motivated us and kept us moving forward. Very few people will attain any measure of success without paying a price for it.

Why do we think our spiritual lives will be different? Surely, we do not earn our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8), but we called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). There is effort and exertion on our part to become more like Christ. We must spend time on our knees. We must faithfully read God’s Word over and over again, letting it speak transforming truth into our lives. We must connect with a local church where we can learn how to practice those truths both inside and outside the walls. We must serve others and share Jesus. This is how we reach higher and climb farther and experience those spiritual highs we desire so much.

We want those mountain top experiences because from there we get a clearer picture of God’s plan and purpose. We are no nearer to God on top of the mountain than we are when we trudge through the deepest, darkest valley. God is just as present one place as He is another. It is on the mountain’s peak, however, that we see the path that we traveled to reach the heights. We can trace the purpose of God for the pains and sorrows we or others have experienced. As we do so we shout, “Aha! Now I see what God was up to. Now I see that the pain wasn’t wasted.”

Would it not be glorious if God simply took us from mountaintop to mountaintop with no valleys to endure and no exertion needed on our part? The answer is a resounding “no.” It would be easier if God chose to do it that way, but it would not be better. in order to become the people God is calling is to be and that He created us to be, we need the struggle. We need the exertion. We need the challenge. It is the only way we can grow in our Christlikeness.

Remember, our Lord suffered greatly, and He was perfect. Why, then, do we expect our spiritual growth to be without struggle? Let us cherish the moments we spend at the summit viewing God’s grandeur and celebrating life’s victories, but let us also prepare to climb down and continue our spiritual journey. The glory to be revealed is worth the struggle of the day.

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