I bounced up and down in my seat as I stared out of the window of the train that was making its way up the steep mountain in the Alps. We climbed higher and higher, passing by numerous villages and houses surrounded by grassy slopes. Soon, however, the green was masked by a blanket of white, and the air that came in through the open window became chilly. We got to the last station and a group of us got off. I looked up the mountain and realized I still had a long while to hike until I reached the top. This memory reminds me that I believe my spiritual life is a climb.
A significant point in my spiritual life was my baptism, but contrary to the belief that baptism is a radical moment in a person’s life, I felt like it was just another step in my climb. I grew up in a Mennonite home. My parents and my church congregation taught me about Jesus Christ and his message. They laid the foundation, and I could see the mountain up ahead. When I got baptized in March of 2000, it was like I was finally lacing up my hiking boots to prepare for my spiritual and physical journey through life. When I chose to be baptized, I had resolved to head up the mountain.
In the Alps, the snow was piled up so high that it was extremely difficult to climb. At some points there was no definite path, and other times, I would take a step and my leg would sink into over a foot of icy, cold snow. I would get discouraged, and the thought of giving up and going back would flash through my mind. But when I finally broke free, I remembered my only destination was the top.
In my spiritual life I encounter obstacles and doubts as well. Sometimes there are challenges in the way that take all of my concentration and energy. In these cases, I either have to find an alternative route or work through the problems with the grace of God holding me up. Many times I feel like I don’t know where God is, or I get so focused on my problems, I forget my goal of reaching the top.
Thankfully, on the way I have friends, mentors, spiritual leaders, and others to give me a helping hand. I can rest in their guidance, and listen to their advice about which places are rough climbing and which ways God may have already carved out for me. My friends were with me when I climbed up the mountain in Switzerland, and I have wonderful friends that are present in my spiritual life.
When I finally reached the top of the mountain, I focused first on catching my breath. Then, I looked around at the gorgeous Alps and at the ridges standing above the clouds with white snow gracing their tips. At the top of this 6,000 foot mountain, I could see the beauty in the green valleys below and in the grey and white mountains that loomed over them. And I could only think that this is what it must be like when I reach the end of my spiritual climb. I believe that life is a climb, and at the end, we’ll see God’s grace and love jutting into the sky like regal mountains.
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