I’ve been a believer since I was ten years old. I grew up in the church and was raised in a Christian household. All that to say, there was, and continues to be, a lot of talk about mountains and valleys.

Take, for instance, the “mountaintop experience.” Or “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” Or the “Sermon on the Mount.” All through the Bible there are references to mountains and valleys.

The valleys of life are where most of us reside the majority of the time. There is no way to simply leap from peak to peak; rather, we have to traverse the valleys in between. They are usually low and quiet places, and can be the very place God puts us to equip us for our next climb. But what happens when we decide it’s safest just to stay there? Certainly, there’s less risk and because we’ve grown to know it well, we become comfortable there. What then?

Years ago, we took a vacation to the mountains. One beautiful day, we decided that we would hike one of the trails in hopes of seeing what was billed as a magnificent waterfall. We set off on the trail, which was quite easy at first. However, the further we got along the trail, the more dense the foliage, and steep and rocky the path. It was hard, hard work and the thicket of leaves not only blocked our view, but also prevented any cool breeze at all. In short, it was miserable.

We soldiered on, but the path became so obscure that we thought we must have veered off of it somehow. We found a big, flat rock and sat for a bit to cool off. Just then, another couple came by and said they thought this was still the trail; they were going to keep going. We decided it was more than we bargained for, wished them well, and headed back down to level ground.

Later that evening, we ran into that same couple again. They almost couldn’t get a complete sentence out for talking excitedly over each other! They went on and on about how spectacular the view was – further than they’d ever dreamed – and how the waterfall was just as magnificent as we’d all heard. The kicker? All that beauty was only about five minutes further up the mountain. We were RIGHT THERE but quit, missing the whole thing.

This memory has been rumbling about in my mind for a few days, then I ran across the following this morning:

“Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands, afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if we only had the courage for the mountain climb, what blessings we would find if only we would move to the uplands of God.” – J.R.M. (from Streams in the Desert)

Seems it’s time for me to face up to the hard work of the climb, for I’ve been lingering in the lowlands too long. I’ve never thought of it as “self-indulgence,” but isn’t it? When God’s calling us to His greater glory, isn’t it in our own best interest to obey – and the worst kind of arrogance when we don’t?

I want to see that view from the uplands and not miss it. From all accounts, it’s spectacular.

My New Year’s resolution?

To climb.