When God asks us to climb, it's for our own good.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
- Matthew 17:20b
I literally climbed a mountain this past week.
Ok. Actually, it was a steep ridge. We were on vacation in Colorado, and I chose the Bierstadt Lake hike for our big, fat family of seven. I thought it would be just at our max ability, and boy, was it ever! Towards the end of the nearly 4 mile hike, my seven year old, Silas, told me that his feet were at 1%. That’s cutting it close! Silas and I held up the rear the entire way, frequently stopping for breaks and water. When we finally reached the summit, we were sweaty, hungry, and tired. But, let me tell you, it was worth it! At the top, there was this amazing mountain lake, serene and untouched. We just sat and recharged for a long time; we ate and rested and waded in the water as we took in the quiet beauty of this hidden treasure. When we got back into town, most of my people bought patches of Bierstadt Lake. We had all accomplished something we could be proud of, something worthy of sewing on our backpacks.
So, why tell you this story?
I think it illustrates something beautiful about the “mountains” that God doesn’t move for us—the ones he asks us instead to climb. As a parent, I pushed my kids to their max on that hike. Sure, I encouraged them along the way, I helped them, I even carried their sticks and rocks for them. But, was it difficult? Absolutely. However, my intent was not to wear my kids down or hurt them. Quite the opposite! I wanted them to be able to look back on that hike with a sense of accomplishment and joy. I wanted them to experience the treasure of that lake and to really feel it’s worth because they hiked up a mountain just to see it.
Similarly, God has good purposes for us when he asks us to climb a mountain.
When I was a younger Christian, I thought that God would move every mountain. I thought he was mad at me or punishing me if he didn’t. But, as I “grew up” in the faith, I began to learn the value of climbing mountains. I’ve learned that God is waaaay more interested in my spiritual growth than in my ease. Moreover, he always has a good purpose when he asks me to climb a mountain. He has things to teach me, things I can learn in no other way. He wants me to depend on him and to trust that he is with me every single step of the way. He wants me to know that his intent is for my good. Most of all, he wants to grow me and stretch me; he wants to build my faith muscles. He wants me to understand that the treasure of my faith far surpasses the comfort I would experience if I had never been pushed to climb.
We all have patches.
Just like my kids got patches for their backpacks, we too have “patches” from the mountains that we’ve climbed. Your patches might say “cancer” or “infertility” or “job loss”. Whatever they are, they aren’t without purpose. Nothing, even the hardest thing, is lost in God’s economy. He will redeem it, transform it, and use it for good. That’s just how he works. So, if you’ve climbed a mountain, there’s a good chance God has a task in mind for you. Maybe you know someone who is climbing that same mountain, even now. You already know that path, every switchback and steep ridge. How might you help ease their climb?
How have you seen God grow you through difficult times?
Do you value your faith over your comfort?
Is there someone in your life “climbing a mountain” that you’ve already climbed? How can you be a help to them?
Natalie co-founded Dwell with her sister, Vera. Together, they're committed to helping others connect with God each and every day. Natalie also hosts our weekly podcast, Dwell Differently. She and her husband, Jason, live in Chicago with their 5 kids, where Jason pastors First Free Church.