Up on the Mountain

Mountains have always been a fascination of mine.  Growing up, I lived in some pretty flat areas, Texas being a great example of one of the flattest places on earth!  When my family did vacation it was always to the beach,  so mountains have almost a mythical meaning for me, something that was always an object of my imagination as a child.

At church, I would read about Jesus up on the mountain feeding the 5,000.  Jesus climbing the Mount of Olives.  Jesus going near Mount Hermon when we went to the town of Bananaias.  As much as I tried to imagine these moments of Scripture, they were always hard for me to bring to life.

It wasn’t until I graduated high school and went on a road trip with a best friend across America did I finally see true mountains.  Through visiting the Sequoia, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone National parks opened my eyes to their majesty and awe.  Since then, I have journeyed far and wide to see some of the greatest mountains on the planet: Glacier National Park, Milford Sound, Matterhorn, Waterton National Park, and the mountains in Israel and Jordan.

Recently, a group from our church just returned from Mexico.  We had many amazing moments as we served our brothers and sisters at Refugio De Paz.  We did a whole lot of painting on the church and refreshed their children’s space and gave it a new look.  Towards the end of the week we were asked a question, “Do you want to climb the mountain?”

Refugio De Paz is located in a suburb of Monterrey, Mexico.  The city is surrounded by mountains, one of the largest of which is Cerro de Silla (Saddle Mountain).  This was the mountain our friends in Mexico were asking if we wanted to climb.

My immediate answer, “I’m in!”

From our group, there were four of us that chose to go.  We started our hike before sunrise and three of our friends from Mexico walked with us:  Juan, who had been our driver for the week, Enrique, and his son, Kiki (Enrique Jr.).  So we hiked.  And then we hiked.  And then we hiked some more.  The trail was rocky and uneven.  We had flashlights so that we could navigate the tricky areas.  The pace that Enrique set for us was tiresome and our group had to break apart.  Huffing out of breath, gulping down water, hot even though it was still dark, we turned to our guides and asked, “How much farther?”

With a big smile, they held out their hand with a little space between their thumb and their index finger, “poquito mas” (a little farther).  So we hiked some more.  About 20 minutes later as light was beginning show, we turn to our guides, barely able to catch our breath, cloths drenched with sweat, water running low, “I thought you said poquito mas!”

A big smile came across their faces, and laughing they said, “Si, poquito mas!”

10 minutes later, we finally see the platform far up and away that marked our destination.  Our friends turn to us and say, “see, just a little more poquito mas!”

Oh man, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and roll down the hill.

But we trooped it out and finally made it to the observation deck 20 minutes later.  We looked down upon Monterrey spread out before us in every direction.  It was still lit up and the last of the remaining darkness was giving way to light.

If I had known that we were only on third of the way up when we were first asking how much farther, I would have been tempted to give up.  But our friends knew how the view from the top was worth the effort.  So they encouraged us through smiles and a bit of stretching the truth!

Our guides that day were putting into action 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.   

In our world today, it is easy to let those we care about give up on something worth fighting for.   Honoring marriages, staying in school, working hard at a dead end job are all examples of how we can encourage each other to not give up;  because if you don’t give up, one day you reach your destination, and the view is worth it!

Prayer focus for today: Who in your life needs encouragement to not give up?
Grace and Peace,

Jonathan Mann

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