Climbing that mountain

Why do we do what we do in ministry? Is it because man opened the door and it seemed the best thing to do? Was it a logical career choice or a good step toward the next step of our future?

Or did we receive a mandate from God? Did we climb a mountain and, upon reaching its summit, gain a vision from God that we are willing to sacrifice all for?

I spent the summer of my sophomore year in college doing missions work in Mexico. During a break, some of my new Mexican friends and I took a day trip to Bahia Kino (Kino Bay) on the Sea of Cortez. It became my most memorable day of the entire summer. At the time, Bahia Kino was a quaint and quiet village. We swam unexpectedly among dolphins and shared stories on the beach. Adjacent to us was a rocky mountain with a cross on its summit. As the sun started to set behind that mountain, the glow of the sky and the view of the cross inspired us to climb. So we did, with bare feet.

The mountain didn’t look so high when we started, but the more we climbed it seemed we would never reach the summit. Our feet began to hurt on the jagged rocks. Our knees were bruised and bleeding. Halfway through the climb, we were thirsty and exhausted, but we would not turn back.

Finally, we reached the summit. We reached the cross. And the view was breathtakingly spectacular. We stayed there, speechless, each one of us soaking in the picturesque scene in private conversation with God. While there was barely enough light to make it down the mountain, we reluctantly began our descent. The experience never left me, even to this day.

As I look back at our work in the inner city for the past 24 years, it has certainly not been easy. Many, many times my feet hurt. My knees were bruised and bleeding. I was parched, exhausted and weary. And of course, during some of those very times, doors of opportunity opened by man came along that would have brought me escape, relief, and most certainly more comfort and provision going forward.

But I could not. I could not because God called me to climb this mountain. It was His mandate, not mine, not man’s, and certainly not for convenience or financial security, but a vision and calling from God. Somehow I knew that if I ceased to climb this mountain, I would miss the glimpse of His glory that I have been striving so long for.

Today I am climbing the mountain again. I am asking God for a new glimpse of His glory. I am seeking a greater comprehension of His purpose. I hope to find it. But should He not choose to give it in the time that I would desire, I am reminded that Jesus had more than sore feet, bruised knees, and parched exhaustion when He climbed the hill called Golgotha.

In the times that I understand and in the times that I do not, I still want to climb. “I am not seeking the approval of man, or else I would no longer be a bondservant of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Sore feet, bruised and bleeding knees, parched mouth and exhausted body cannot keep me from climbing this mountain if at its summit I can hear His voice, see His glory, and be near His cross.

As the old spiritual says, “Lord, don’t move that mountain. Just give me the strength to climb.” 

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