Not Your Everyday "Mountaintop Experience"
"Do you think they have a helicopter at the top?"
That question escaped from my mouth as I gasped for air halfway up Camelback Mountain, which my friend and I were climbing.
We were in Phoenix for a conference several weeks ago and spent our few free hours conquering (or at least trying to conquer) the beautiful mountain looming just outside of the city.
Did I mention we ate In-and-Out Burger immediately before deciding to hike up the mountain?
That sustenance, paired with my current lack of physical training, produced a very laborious journey up the mountain.
When we first began the hike, I was constantly amazed by the beautiful views of the mountain path above us and the vast city below us. The higher and higher we climbed, the more captivating the views were of Phoenix splashed against the mountainous skyline.
After an hour of hiking, we finally reached the top and drank in this view:
It was absolutely beautiful.
After a brief time at the top of the mountain, we began our (hour-long) descent back to our car. And about 20 minutes into our hike down the mountain, I realized something.
I had stopped enjoying the beauty around me and the views from the side of the mountain.
I was tired, out of water, hot, and focused on not slipping during my climb down the mountain (which I failed at by the way).
And yet I was still surrounded by the same breath-taking landscape that I was so enamored by just an hour earlier. My focus had just been altered.
In the midst of the God's handiwork, I was focused on - my pain and discomfort.
Sounds a bit like life sometimes right?
How often are we surrounded by God's greatness? His beauty? His handiwork?
And how often do we fail to see any of that beauty because we are focused on the ugly right in front of our eyes?
It could be physical pain. Or a stressful day. A fight with a loved one. Or failure.
Not that the pain isn't real or legitimate. It almost always is.
But, at least for me, I often ask God where He is in those moments of greatest pain and ugliness.
And I was reminded that afternoon on the side of the mountain of this: He is there with me in the midst of that pain and ugliness.
We are entering into a season of the year where we become more focused on Jesus' last days on Earth. His crucifixion, burial, and subsequent resurrection from the dead. We call it Good Friday and Easter.
And when we celebrate Easter, we remember a God who came to Earth as a man (being 100% God and 100% human) and dwelt with us. He dwelt with us in the pain and the ugliness.
On the side of Camelback Mountain, I was reminded that God is always with us. No matter what the circumstances of life are for us.
Sometimes we just need to stop. Take a breath. And look around.