Living in a rugged rural area offers me the privilege of beholding hills and mountains of diverse heights and shapes. Behind the buildings where I currently work, mountains stand lofty and steep. These verdant and tall mountains surround the campus at a distance. In fact, our site is located at the foot of a mountain. At a yet, farther expanse beyond my house, I see mountains too. When I travel from my village going to the different cities, mountains line up along the roads as well.
I adore mountains and love to gaze at them often from my home. On the other hand, there are individuals I know who hate mountains, especially climbing them. In fact, not only mountains but even stairways in structures. But then there are those who show their admiration for mountains by climbing them. Of course, they do it for a number of reasons and purposes.
- There are those who engage in mountain climbing as a hobby.
- Some climb mountains for the purpose of exercise.
- Others climb for adventure; that is—conquering one mountain after the other.
- A few climb mountains to make a name in the world, such as to be in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Several take part in mountain climbing, simply for sheer pleasure.
As for me, I am not really an avid mountain climber like some of my friends that I know. However, when I think of mountain climbing, I can’t help but vividly recall that mountaineering event I had back in my college days. I earned my degree from an institution where several students used to climb mountains. In that school, climbing mountains as an activity often thrilled us especially for those enrolled in the club, called Master Guide.
One day, our club decided to climb the highest mountain in Mindanao, Philippines called Mt. Kitangland. Mt. Kitanglad is an inactive volcano located in the Kitanglad mountain range in Bukidnon province, in the island of Mindanao. It is situated between the municipalities of Malaybalay City and Impasug-ong, Sumilao and Libona.
Mt. Kitanglad is considered as the fourth highest mountain in the Philippines—reaching approximately 2,899 meters in height according to the pinoymountaineer.com. Many people in my place, including myself, have dreamed of climbing that mountain. So, we fixed the date to climb that certain mountain. But before we could do that, our club director announced,
Each of you must submit to medical checkup to see if you are physically fit to climb a mountain.
So, we all did. After the physician’s examination, however, a few were dropped from the list for health reasons. The doctor wrote “unfit for mountain climbing” on their medical certificates. So, they had to stay in the campus and missed this climbing adventure.
Fortunately, I passed that physical checkup along with the other members of the team. I felt so honored for having been counted “physically fit to climb mountains” after the examination. Thus, feeling excited, we pulled our backpacks and headed to the foot of Mt. Kitangland to start the escapade.
We began our hike at 6 in the morning. At the start of the climb, we all felt comfortable and relaxed because it appeared so easy. With smiles on our faces, we walked so fast. Several cracked jokes along the way making our trek more enjoyable. In fact, some of us sang as we hiked.
Hours swiftly passed. As we kept moving though, I noticed our pace became slower. This time, I realized that the aura has changed. I noticed that smiles have turned to frowns. Jokes have become minimal. Silence replaced the cheerful ambiance a few hours ago. I personally began to sense the tiring journey. Further, I felt that the one-kilo baggage on my back has now converted to three kilos or more. I wanted to quit and get back where we started. But our director said, “you need to move on,” so we had to.
As the climb became more and more tough, members who wanted to give up increased. “I just want to go back Sir and wait for you at the foot,” shouted one of my classmates. “Go on and keep climbing, you will make it to the top”, the director’s voice echoed. So, we kept moving very slowly. Yet, the more we moved, the more the ascent became steeper.
In some parts of the rise, our knees and jaws almost met. We had to cling to a rope in order to keep moving. This really scared me to death that I asked myself, “Would I come back to my school alive?” I almost collapsed along the way losing my breath at times. As I beheld the steep mountain before me, I exclaimed, “Reaching the top is impossible, Sir!”
“Soon you will be at the top,” his firm words resonated. This line stuck to my brain and it helped me keep moving. I wanted to have that mountain top experience. So, we hiked that day rambling slowly, carefully but surely. And I managed to keep going.
Finally, at six o’clock in the evening, we set foot on top of the mountain—“Mt. Kitanglad at last!” “I just can’t believe it. But am here!” I yelled at the top of my voice. Reaching that top thrilled my heart. A very different feeling engulfed me. The long and tiring struggle has now ended. Euphoria filled my being, making my heart jump with pride and awe. Happiness replaced the fatigue that I previously felt. Such an experience seems unforgettable, making its mark still fresh and indelible in my mind even until today.
This mountain top experience has taught me some spiritual insights that I have kept in my heart. As I recall this episode, my mind flashes back to the mountain top experiences of Jesus and His disciples while here on earth. These experiences present some valuable lessons worth gleaning.
- Mountains serve as places of refuge and solitude when we are stressed or distressed.
Jesus proved this point according to the account of Apostle Luke when he recorded,
But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:11-12, NASB).
As a kid, I lived by the seashore. Our ancestral home stood where we could hear the squelching waves as we slept during the night. As a typhoon belt region, we always expected the tide to rise. So, my father instructed us, “Whenever tides would rise, you must run to the mountains for your safety wherever you are”. Mountains then served as our refuge during times of calamities, especially strong typhoons.
In your lonely nights, when you are in your life’s lowest ebb or when you are stressed or distressed, you too can rush to your own mountain for shelter and safety. There is your own mountain always available for you—the mountain of private prayer where you can pour out to God your worries, burdens, and doubts. You can unload your heart to Him even in the silence of the night and in your most pressing moment. This is your shelter, a wonderful place of refuge you can always run to, anytime, anywhere.
- Mountains are Jesus’ favorite classroom for teaching His people.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ (Matthew 24:3, NASB).
Jesus often retreated with His disciples to the mountains when on this earth. He used to teach them in these places. Mountains became Jesus’ favorite classroom for the teaching and learning experience of His students—His disciples.
And so with us today, if we want to learn some important lessons for spiritual growth, mountains are the finest spots to go to. They are the best recesses for a learning experience with God. Malls or department stores are gorgeous places. But, they are not usually the greatest places for learning spiritually due to its many distractions. In those places, we may not hear the still small voice whereby God may be speaking to us. But when you are in the mountains, the surrounding is so tranquil, so serene, that you can hear God’s still small voice.
So, if you want to listen to God speak to you, it may be well to reside to the mountains and wait on God in the stillness of the precipitous environs. There, where only God and yourself, would commune with each other in an intimate way, He may reveal and spread before you, His best plans for your life.
- Mountains are places where God wants to showcase His miracles.
God instructed Abraham to offer his only son as a burnt offering. With unquestioning obedience, Abraham climbed Mt. Moriah and did according to God’s direction. But when he stretched out his hand to slay his own son as an offering, an angel of the Lord stopped him from doing so. God then, provided the burnt offering. Such a great miracle occurred in the mountain of Moriah. The book of Genesis outlines this account:
He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you….’ (Genesis 22: 1-13, NASB).
Then there’s the Mt. Carmel showdown. Elijah’s faith at Mount Carmel against that of Baal, gives us explicit insights on how God can perform miracles in our lives.
But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’ (1 Kings 18:16-45, NIV).
Both miracles happened on two mountains. The above-named mountains have become famous due to the miracles that God have performed there. Could it be that, in your Christian life, God’s best option for performing a miracle is in your mountains? Perhaps these are the times when you feel so hopeless and helpless, then God comes along your way with His miraculous rescue. Mountains are places where God wants to highlight His miracles.
The feeding of five thousand is another miracle that happened on a mountain. The Apostle John writes this event in the book of John:
Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples…Therefore Jesus, lifting His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread that these may eat?’…Jesus said, ‘have the people sit down.’ (John 6:3-14, NASB).
- God would like to meet us individually in our Mountains for instructions.
So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain. (Exodus 34:1-3, NASB).
When God wanted to give the Israelites special instructions, He called Moses and gave him specific directions to meet Him in the mountains. He even specified that no one should accompany him in his meeting with God in the mountain. The book of Exodus clearly details this account. Oftentimes, God would like to call us individually to our mountains so we can receive some imperative, important, and special instructions.
There are times when God wants to talk to us on a personal level where no one may disturb or distract our attention. That is why at times, He allows us to go through a mountaintop experience so that we may hear His clear instructions for us. He allows a mountain of trials that we may listen to His voice loud and clear.
Isn’t it something to rejoice when your mountains come? Maybe God is getting your attention so could you hear a very special instruction from Him, and that instruction is for you and you alone.
- God is going to gather His people in His Mountain.
Jesus made this wonderful promise clear to us when He said in the Scripture,
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it. (Isaiah 2:2, ESV).
For me, this is the best time when you and I can ever have—being with Jesus our Savior and Lord. This is the ultimate fulfillment of His long ago given promise made to our forefathers in the olden times. This will be the best vacation ever. During this time, you and I will dwell with Jesus through the ceaseless ages of eternity along with His redeemed.
When Jesus comes, all of His beloved people will be gathered in His eternal Kingdom, the mansion He promised, the ultimate Mountain for the faithful, where we will dwell together with Him and His angels. I long for such a mountain where a reunion with Jesus and the righteous ones will take place. There is a special mountain, there will be no more sadness or tears, no more sorrows or pains. All will be eternal joy. I would love to dwell in such a mountain with my God.
How about you my friend? How would you like to be in that Mountain?