Why Do I Climb? – Look, See, Pray

It’s a photo of an old smuggler’s route in the Pyrenees. A steep climb up from the valley leading to a magnificent view. Stunning!

Much social energy and ambition is poured into “being a success” or attaining “celebrity status.” It is the equivalent of climbing a mountain to be seen, to be able to boast. As David McCullough Jr pointed out, it is better to “Climb mountains, not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

(By the way, getting to the mountain top by using the chairlift doesn’t entitle a name change to “Edmund Hillary”…)

Standing over such a panorama as this changes our inner perspective. At least, it should do (in my opinion, anyway!) because the rugged vast beauty suggests that we are not the centre of the universe. Even if we’d like to be.

One of the deep lessons of spending thirty years as a pastor has come from standing on the highest available hills overlooking the communities I served- and simply seeing the whole area spread out. Being there and consciously praying for the people was both humbling and inspirational. Doing this “mountain climbing” at twilight was especially moving. Lighted windows and lit street lamps twinkled below whilst the stars above began to sparkle, signposts of the immensity of the Galaxy. The number of lights spoke of the number of people- and the importance of reaching every person with the Light of the World. Jesus said “Go into ALL the world…”

I don’t think the church or community knew I was up there- and I’m glad. I wasn’t there to be seen. I was there to recognise the scale of God’s everlasting loving-kindness to everyone I could see, know, or imagine- and pray. My one regret is that I might have done this more often.

In one of the temptations of Jesus, the devil took Jesus to the highest point and offered Him “all of this- if you will worship me.”

Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” (See Luke 4)

The highest places and attainments in this world are dangerous indeed- they can make us proud unless they keep us humble. It’s always worth asking ourselves how we’re responding to the “mountains” in our world. Jesus came to serve.

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