In the latest issue of Alpinist, Paul Hersey and Andy Lindblade capture the stories of climbers who have tackled Nepal's 7710-meter summit named "Jannu." The mountain's steep and icy walls have lured decades of climbers looking for an ultimate challenge. Each climber has stories of danger and close calls attempting to climb one of the most challenging peaks in the world.
Any experienced climber will tell you that each mountain has its unique characteristics that can quickly claim the life of the careless mountaineer. It's not so much the size of the mountain that can make it hazarous as it is how it the mountain is structured.
The spiritual mountains are no different. Everyone one of us are "alpinists" in one shape or another. Each of us have spiritual mountains to climb, and the range we find ourselves on depend on a variety of factors. Some of our mountains are self-made through bad decision-making. Others are brought on by circumstances beyond our control; relationships, suffering, and many other reasons. However, there are some mountains God Himself puts before us. Whether we decide to climb those "God-made" summits can determine how spiritually mature we really want to become.
Throughout history, we come across men and women who seem to be the pinnacle of spiritual depth and maturity. Their close relationship and friendship with God seems to place them in a completely different catagory. The 14th century "theologian" Thomas A. Kempis is one of the West's most noted on discipleship. Kempis is known for his book The Imitation of Christ where he chronicles his conversations with God. In the East, especially India and Nepal, the Sadhu Sundar Singh reveals a closeness with God that few have matched. His relationship with God allowed him to see visions and experience the deep truthes of Christ.
Of course, there are many others who we will never know of this side of heaven. Yet, they have one thing in common: God put before them a spiritual mountain requiring a total and concise commitment to all things spiritual. Their mountains were the Mount Everests of the spiritual world, the kingdom of God.
I'm not certain anyone can say whom God chooses to place such mountains. Perhaps Paul's letter to the disciples in Rome may shed a little bit of light. He writes: "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:21)
I have to admit that whole section of scripture confuses me. While I'm not certain of all its meaning, I think it may refer somewhat to the spiritual purposes God has planned for us. God has set before each and every one of us some type of spiritual mountain in which we have the responsibility of scaling. Whether we choose to pick up the rope, ice axe, and crampons is up to us.
In Nepal, one can take a tour to the base camp of Mount Everest. There, visitors can get a firsthand view of the world's tallest mountain and leave satisfied knowing they've experienced something few will ever get to. But the basecamp houses another group. They are the ones not satisfied with the base. Instead, they've set their eyes for the very top. They've prepared themselves for an ordeal demanding every ounce of energy and determination. It's dangerous and difficult. But it is an experience they would not trade for anything in the world.
Has God put a spiritual Mount Everest before you? You will never know until you begin the climb. Far too many of us spend out time in the base camps of spiritual development. Taking steps toward the pinnacle means risk, uncertainty, and work. Yet, it also means new views, challenges, and successes. The only way we can truly experience what the Father has for us is to begin the ascent into the unknown. Mistakes will be made. Fortunately, our God is forgiving and patient. He wishes that none should perish, but that all should have eternal life. Eternal life is so much more than the plane of existence we enter upon death. It is life itself in the way God created us to live.
The question we need to ask and answer is "Will be begin the trek?"