“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from.” Psalm 121
There she sits, windows all aglow, full of warmth and perched high upon Berg Mountain: our cozy home. But here we all sit at the bottom of the hill, tired from travels, cranky with coughs and sniffles, stranded in our mini-van, stuck in 8 inches of snow.
We returned from up north in the middle of the snow storm Monday, and our long, steep driveway was impassable. I didn’t even pack boots, so my heroic wife hiked up the 500 foot hill with Abby in her arms, and returned with boots and sleds. We then packed the boys and our luggage onto sleds, and made the long, tiring hike up to the house through nearly 12 inch drifts.
Honestly, it was a pretty epic adventure for the kids, something out of a pioneer’s memoir from the 19th century. But listen: There’s a parable here that sums up how I view my calling and our life together at MainStreet.
Many of us find ourselves spiritually stuck in one of life’s snowbanks. We’re spinning the tires, the heats gone out, and we’re shivering out in the cold. While I try my best to join you at the bottom of your snowy hills and sit with you in that cold vehicle, the honest truth is I’m blessed to spend a large part of my week at the top of the Lord’s Mountain, warming my heart by the flames of his glorious promises, feasting at His table on the His Holy Word.
Most of what I do as a pastor each week is aimed at getting people out of that cold minivan in the snow and on their up that mountain toward the cozy abode of God’s Presence. The old motel commercial used to say, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” I hope we as a church will do much more than that just flip on a light and hope people find their way to the door! When you’re stranded at the bottom of a hill, you need more than that!
Keri went ahead of me, plowing a path with her feet. Then she brought back warm clothes and boots for us to make the trip. She provided sleds to carry our baggage and tired children.
The sermons I preach try to describe the warmth awaiting us if we’ll make our way to the top of the mountain.
The blogs I write are like sending sleds and adequate clothes down the hill to help others begin the hike.
Three Taverns discussions and Lifegroup studies help us find the best routes up the mountain while avoiding the ditches and snowdrifts that will hold us back.
Huddles provide us with a climbing team so we’re never climbing alone.
My one-on-one coffee and lunch chats seek to motivate and help you out of that cold van.
Now here’s the challenge before us: Keri and I had two choices sitting in that van staring up at that warm house, longing to be inside. First, we could have just sat there blaming our snowplow guy, and waited half the night for him to finally come plow us a path and eliminate our trouble. Or, second, we could buck up, step out into the storm and make the difficult climb.
Some of us are stranded in our walk with God, measuring how deep the drifts are and how long the journey looks back up that hill. We’re throwing pity parties and blaming others for not plowing their fair share. Honestly, many of us are hoping that if we sit here long enough, God will show up with his Divine Plow, make all the snow go all away, and spare us the exhausting hike altogether.
May I suggest we stop spinning the tires, stop waiting for God to wave His magic wand, and instead embrace the adventurous climb that is discipleship. “If anyone wants to be my disciple, they must deny themselves (warmth, comfort), take up their cross (effort), and follow me (up Calvary’s hill” (Mark 8:34). Let’s fix our eyes on that glowing house on the hill, stir up a desire for the warmth that awaits us inside, put on the necessary clothes He has given us (Eph. 6), and start the upward climb!
Oh, look out the van window! What do you see up on that hill? Could it be? Is that Jesus himself putting on his hat and gloves, and beginning the long descent from the Father’s House to rescue us? Of course it is!
Let me offer a word of advice: When he gets all the way down to your minivan in the ditch and bids you come follow, don’t hesitate. Put on your boots, take his hand and follow him up that hill. And if you’re weary, and carrying too much luggage, let him pull you in the sled for awhile. Just ask Isaak — it was a nice ride and Daddy didn’t mind the extra weight (too much).
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip.”
Ironically, here’s a song I heard in the van on our way home that day. :)