This photo of the Matterhorn mountain hangs on my friend’s living room wall and I love it. Something about the image just captivates me. The mountain is in plain view. You can see it in its entirety. It feels close enough to touch...within grasp, within reach. You can visually plot out your ascent up those rocky slopes to get to the top.
But as your eye moves around the image, you start to notice the little matchstick trees. Those same trees that you’d be totally dwarfed by if you were on the ground below them. You see the detail of the rocky crags and sheer peaks on the mountain side, each of them a mini summit in themselves that would take grit, stamina and endurance to climb. You are reminded of the enormity of this mountain top. Yes you can see it but to actually reach it would be different thing. It would take determination, plans, strategy, and ALOT of little steps...
I don’t know if you’re like me but I have moments in life when it feels like I see my dreams with such clarity. Those gloriously lucid moments when it feels like I could almost reach out and touch them. Like the mighty Matterhorn, my future seems to come into view. It’s thrilling and I feel wide-eyed, inspired, awestruck.
Aaaaand then, in the same breath, I start to fixate on the details. Those pesky little ifs and buts spring to mind and my practical/rational/logical brain kicks in with an unwelcome attention to the detailed minutiae of the path ahead. My perspective shifts from dazzling, unencumbered dreaming to an overwhelming sense of all the things I’d have to DO, to overcome, to change in order to get to that elusive mountain top. Questions come flocking through my mind…How am I going to do this with my limited resources? Are you sure you’ve got the right girl? You know its just little old me right? Maybe I could just stay here and enjoy the view and not actually have to get there?
Hello fear and doubt! Nothing if not constant in their companionship on our journey!
For me, the ongoing challenge is learning to endure and enjoy the tension in the journey - holding the magnitude of our calling in balance with the many moments and steps that it takes to get us there. How to keep looking up when we inevitably face discouragement, our demons, our fears and doubts...how to let that make us stronger and more determined and through it all, fixed on the goal. So with that in mind, Philippians 3:12-15 is an amazing verse to regularly reach for.
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. (Phil 3:12-15 MSG)
Paul is encouraging us to have that attitude of “I see you goal, I see you calling, I see you higher place, I’m coming to get you!” To have our ‘Matterhorn' clearly in sight. And at the same time to humbly be OK with the process that will get us there. The thousand upon thousand of little steps that we’ll have to take. We’re going to have to say goodbye to the past sometimes, we’re going to have to stay doggedly fixed on the goal, our attitude is going to have to change and grow along the journey so that our character can support our vision and perspective. But God promises to help! For me, verse 15 is profound and speaks to me of a God who will lovingly make my blind spots clear, my areas of limited vision and poor attitude. When I hit a roadblock and don’t feel like pursuing my mountain anymore, I can turn to Him and ask Him to show me why? What is making me feel weak/insignificant/overwhelmed [insert your own emotion] What am I believing that is different to the way He sees things? He’ll show me what’s up and help me to move on.
So…I encourage you on your mountain trek!! Keep that mountain top in sight. Draw it, write about it, tell close friends about it and get them to remind you of it regularly. And most of all, invite God into every step. The bits where your feet are cut up and blistered, where you are weary and thirsty, and also those moments of glorious clarity. Let Him in because He will remain faithful to love you through it all. You're going to make it :-)