On the 3rd day of 2009, I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Longonot for a 3rd time – this time with 40+ young people from my church. We set off at about 8 a.m. and began to climb at about 10:30 a.m. In the end, I was the oldest among the 21 hikers who completed the 20 km hike to the highest peak and back down, with the last of the group finishing at about 5:30 p.m.
We had a great time. Most of all because of the numerous observations, lessons, and analogies to the Christian life that we were reminded/made aware of . Here are a dozen of them:
- The closer I drew to the mountain, the larger it “became.” I had actually been looking for a way to encapsulate this truth that has become my testimony over the past couple of months, namely that when I draw nearer to God through prayer and His Word, the effect is NOT that of gaining mastery over a subject, rather I become acutely aware of how much greater God is. My view of Him is enlarged, not diminished, upon learning more of Him. 1b) Conversely, the closer we hikers got to the mountain, the smaller each of us appeared to be. As I draw nearer and nearer to God, my view of self diminishes. It is a great antidote to pride.
- While I had made a point of laying aside all unprofitable external weights (save for a camera and water), it would have helped if I had been able to lay aside some of my internal weight of 80 kg prior to the climb. Similarly, when Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “lay aside every weight” in this spiritual race that we’re running, I find it easier to focus on external weights such as friendships and activities, whereas there are internal weights that need to be laid aside as well.
- The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Some of our group started off fast and didn’t make it to the top; others didn’t look like they would be able to make it (based on mere human perception) and yet they were among those who made it to the top. The opposite was true in both cases as well.
- Encouragement from those who had not gone the full length of the hike was of little comfort compared to the encouragement from those who did the full hike. I’m glad Christ walked where I walk and He knows my pain – a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).
- The trail up the mountain was very narrow and not easy, with numerous potential pitfalls to the left and to the right. We are called to the narrow way, and through much affliction we must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22).
- Water is absolutely vital! How much more then the living water that causes us to never thirst again (John 4:14).
- Preparation/equipping is important. Several people said that they wished they had been better prepared, whether it was their manner of dress, or carrying more water, or better shoes or better physical conditioning. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us of the various ways that the word of God equips us to be “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
- It was helpful to see others make it to the peak ahead of us. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to draw inspiration from the “great cloud of witnesses” in the previous verses (chapter 11) as we run our race.
- The joy of reaching the highest peak caused those who reached to almost forget the pain of getting there. As the song writer wrote: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seems so small when we see Him. One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase, so bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
- Those who made it to the top were easily identifiable. They had the thickest coats of white dust, coupled by the biggest smiles. Matthew 7:20 teaches us that we will know them by their fruits. In other words, true Christianity is always marked by visible evidence.
- At the end of the day, it took individual effort to complete the hike. Nobody else could lift my right foot and place it in front of my left and so on until the top of the mountain. However, having fellow hikers with the same goal and commitment certainly helped! So it is in the Christian walk. We each have our race to finish, but it helps to have like-minded pilgrims alongside us on the journey.
- The mountain hasn’t changed or moved since the last couple of times I was there. It has been constant. Each and everything that I came to learn and acknowledge was the result of a change in my understanding/perception, not a change in the mountain. In the end, those who called the mountain a hill from a distance came to acknowledge that it is a mountain. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). One day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). If I find that I am not as close to God as I once was, guess who moved?
The following day I challenged the same group of young people to try and learn as much about God each day as they learned about Mt. Longonot in this one day. Now there’s some fine homework!