Climbing 2014: Your Secret Weapon for Happiness+Strength

The day after Christmas, I drove up a snowy mountain in a little Subaru, my 13 year old son, Abraham, strapped in beside me. The road wasn’t plowed. The snow was deep. Under the snow was sheer ice. I had little control but expected no traffic  since the road was unplowed. 

I had to drive fast to keep momentum, or the car would have simply slid to a stop. I drove with hands gripping the wheel, all eyes just feet in front of me. When the first vehicle appeared, a jeep,I almost panicked. There was no room to pass! Who would move for whom? We played King of the Road, both driving full tilt toward one another. I could neither slow down nor pull over, or I’d be dead in the snow. I had to keep plowing forward, fishtailing as I went, hoping, praying to keep at least an inch between our respective metal carapaces. 

We passed, missing one another by a breath, but I ended sideways on the road, my back tires spinning helplessly. I rocked and gunned, reversed and tried to rock forward for several minutes. It seemed hopeless, until a man appeared beside me, the driver of the jeep. With a giant push, he heaved me back onto the ice and I was off again.

   When we hit the beginning of the pass and the switchbacks, more challenges. I had to slow to round the nearly 90 degree turns, but had to keep speed to scale the ascent. Abraham and I both leaned forward in our seats, our bodies urging us onward.

Two more trucks and two more King-of-the-Roads as we barely passed on the switchbacks----then a straightaway and a final climb  . . .  . 15 minutes and---Wonder! We made it!  There were about 10 other vehicles there in the parking lot---all heavy duty trucks. Mine was the only small car there.

You all know about this kind of drive, whether you live in Florida or Alaska.

Every year we sit at the bottom of last year’s mountain and get ready to climb another. There it is before us. 365 days. And our car is so small and the snow is so deep and the peak is so far.  All we must do and be in each of those days is overwhelming.

Be faithful?
We are made of dirt and water!

Be joyful?
The wind never stops and there’s not enough money for the mortgage this month.

Be productive?
We have no strength some days save to fall into bed.

Be loving?
Our neighbors and families get testier every year.

Be perfect?
We are made of dust and broken glass.

Be holy?
Our feet are muddied, our hands soiled.

Be like Jesus?
We can hardly be like ourselves some days.

Oh, how will we get up that mountain? We’re tired. We’ve already climbed so many.  And people expect more from us.

 And now, one more.

One more mountain.

But, listen! We've not got it right.

We make too much of our smallness.

We love too much our weakness.

Our failures loom too large and Christ shrinks small.

We empower the past and steal light from the future.

We exalt our groveling and denigrate His glory.

We‘re in love with our brokenness and lose delight in His holiness.

All of this makes the mountain higher and steeper than it really is.

Yes, it’s true, how broken and sharded we are. But we forget the best part of ourselves:

Christ in you, the hope of glory!!

Ain't no mountain too high for us, dear friends.
Do you remember this, who you really are? Do you remember that the mystery  hidden for ages and generations has been revealed NOW, to His saints?! To YOU?!

And this mystery is . .. ..  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Do you think you climb that mountain alone?  (Christ in you, the hope of glory!) 

Do you think it all depends on your hands on the wheel? (Christ in you, the hope of glory!)

Do you think if you get stuck on the way, you’re stuck there forever? (Christ in you, the hope of glory!)

And what do you think is up there?  Did I tell you why I drove that mountain pass?

There were sleds in the back of my car. Another car full of boys would join us. We went sledding. And hiking. And breathing. And talking. 

It was another world up there on the mountain. In the too long dark of the winter, there was light and almost sun, and pieces of blue shone from the sky on the new snow. A ptarmigan startled from a bush. People were snowboarding. My sons’ laughter slid down the sledding hill behind him all the way to the bottom. We walked for hours in a white-bath wilderness.  Later, the setting sun set the peaks on yellow fire.  

I don’t know what’s ahead for us all in this next year.  But Stop looking behind. Stop looking at the frailty of your hands, the dirt under your nails as you grip the wheel, how deep the snow,  all the reasons you think you can’t make it.

Look to Him. Christ is IN you, the hope of glory, and next year will be a grand, heart-pumping adventure. You will laugh, as Abraham and I did sliding around the curves. Your eyes will be wide open. You’ll catch your breath on the straightaways and then fly on the downhills …   You can do so much more than you know because---you know it---Christ is in  you, the hope of glory.

You cannot fail.

Start the New Year now.

Be fearless, happy and strong.

Christ is in you,

        The hope of glory.

(Seat belts required.)