Gallery In the Mountains
Frances and I hike not for challenges, but for enjoyment. I'm pretty much past the days when thinking "I did this!" or "I accomplished that!" means much at all. The older you get, the more you realize that life is not primarily about achievement, but rather who we have known and loved.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30).
"The Lord make to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" (I Thessalonians 3:12).
This does not discount the importance of our doings. They matter, both to God and to ourselves, especially as fruits of the aforementioned love. They are not primary, however, nor do they satisfy our hearts made by God for relationship and fellowship. I share this regarding the matter of hiking because eliminating the notion of challenge means that Frances and I have no need to place ourselves in unsafe circumstances or conditions. It happens nevertheless along steep and rocky mountain paths, as it did this past week on our latest adventure. We journeyed up a rocky cliff known as Lover's Leap (which bears its name because of an interesting story about an Indian maiden I'll share with you on another occasion). We realized the severity of the grade as we ascended, and also the rockiness of the path. Only on our descent, however, did we more vividly discover the extreme tilt and roughness of this particular section on the mountain. Walking down the path while carrying full packs on our backs required utmost caution with every step. A steep drop-off threatened us with the possibility of serious injury at best, or a journey Upward after falling downward at worst (or maybe that would be best). I'm happy to report that we made it, Frances without incident. I slipped once, but was able to catch myself before hiking became flying (of the rapidly descending variety).
I'm also glad to say that we enjoyed the hike. As mentioned in yesterday's message, we saw the beauty of the Lord in the beauty of His mountains and autumn foliage. We slept in our tent by a rushing river at the bottom of the mountain, the sublime scene of which I include at the end of this message (along with a photo of my beautiful hiking partner on the trail). Moment upon moment of our adventure presented joys and wonders beyond description. I suppose one could say that we faced and met challenges. Again, the mountain was steep, the paths rocky, and we made our way to the summit by putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of the day, however, we will remember this hike for our mutual enjoyment with each other, with people we met along the way, and most of all, with the Lord. As with all of life, "We did it" pales in comparison with "the Who's" of our adventure.
Our experience of the wonderful, the mundane, and the difficult depends on who joins us for the journeys of life. The Lord alone accompanies us in all of them. He also grants the fellowship of people for many others. The latter reality - "I am with you always" - serves as the very Life of our lives (Matthew 28:20). The former graces us with opportunity to better know the love of God and love for God, as revealed in people. I wouldn't wanted to have been in the mountains, beautiful as they were, without the Lord and Frances. And I wouldn't want to be without this opportunity of sharing memories with you. Allow me to again suggest that life is far more about the "Who's" than the "What's". As we breath our last breath, our doings will pale in comparison with those who crossed our paths, and those who walked those paths with us. This is joy in its purest form, as known in the God whose very being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit reveals to us the centrality of relationship and fellowship.
"God is love."
( John 4:8).
"This is life eternal, that we may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
"Love one another, as I have loved you."