“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28 NKJV)
As a child, I always wanted to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States. And growing up in Southern California and being part of a youth group that loved to backpack, it seemed to me that my dream was attainable.
And then it happened: I was about 10 or 11 at the time, and our youth leader was planning a 4 day climb. The goal? The peak of Mt. Whitney! At last my dream would be realized!
My hopes were crushed, however, by my parents: “You are too young to go on this trip!”
What???? Too young? My brother was going, and he was only 16 months older than me!
The argument didn’t fly with my parents. “He’s also a boy. There won’t be any girls on this trip. No, you can’t go!”
I argued, I cried, I did everything I knew to do to bend my parents, but they wouldn’t budge, and I was forced to stand by and watch my brother set out to fulfill MY dream!
I haven’t yet been given another opportunity to climb Mt. Whitney, but I have to say that my parents were actually very giving when it came to permission to climb. I was a literal mountain goat, and other than this one time, they never tried to hold me back. In my childhood, I climbed Mt. Baldy, Mt. Baden Powell, Mt. San Jacinto, and many, many others whose names I don’t even remember. They allowed me to go to summer camp for two weeks at a time, where I was able to climb mountains to my heart’s content, and the Mt. Whitney trip was the ONLY backpacking trip attempted by our youth that I wasn’t allowed to participate in.
Were my parents “depriving” me when they told me I couldn’t climb Mt. Whitney?
Not at all. They were simply protecting me. I didn’t see it at the time, because to me they were just being mean and unfair. But I see it now. Would something terrible have happened on that trip? I don’t know. But they felt that the odds of that happening were a bit higher than some of the many trips they allowed me to go on, and they weren’t ready to expose their only daughter to such a risk. In the end, they didn’t allow me to climb Mt. Whitney because they loved and cared for me.
We, as humans, often know just what it is that we need to have a Mountain Top experience. If we’re in the valley of financial difficulties, we “need” to have a raise or a promotion. Or maybe what we “need” is a job. If our “valley” is chronic illness, we are sure that we “need” to be healed. If our “valley” is family problems, then of course what we “need” is for our spouse to return. Or maybe we “need” our teenage children to get better grades, or we “need” our in-laws to move to a different continent!
But do we truly know what we “need”? As a child, I was sure I “needed” to climb Mt. Whitney, and when it didn’t happen, I was angry at my parents. But I didn’t “need” to climb Mt. Whitney. I grew up just as balanced and sane without it, and in the process I got to experience numerous other wonderful climbs.
The point is, we are not all knowing, but God is. We don’t always understand why He allows us to remain in our valleys, but we can be sure of one thing: He LOVES us more than we can even comprehend. He LOVES us with a pure, unselfish love, one that sent Jesus to the cross so that a personal relationship with Him could be possible!
Last Christmas I had the opportunity to take a helicopter to the top of Mt. Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. Imagine my disappointment when the mountain was too covered in cloud and the winds too strong for the chopper to fly! But God opened other doors of opportunity. As a result of missing this trip, I was able to take a helicopter out to White Island, an active volcano, and there experience a trip of a lifetime. I don’t regret not being able to touch the peak of Mt. Cook. The experience that this loss gave me allowed me to do something else that was on my “dream” list, and I thank God for the cloud and the wind that cloaked Mt. Cook.
Friends, let’s stop wishing things were different. Instead, let’s understand that even if we don’t get to climb the “mountain” we have chosen to climb, it’s because God has something BETTER in store for us!
But wait. Isn’t there anything we can do to get ourselves OUT of the valley? Join us next week for MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 7: Somewhere in the Puget Sound
(To access the entire “Mountain-Top Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)