Mountains and Molehills
If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? – Jeremiah 12:5a (NRSV)
Ben Nevis is Scotland’s tallest mountain. Which, at around 4400 feet, is not saying much. But the ascent starts basically from sea level, so you earn every foot.
I had climbed the first few dozen stairs when the path curved around the mountain, and for the first time I got a view of what lay ahead: the longest staircase I had ever seen.
My mind balked. Could I make it up all those stairs? Did I want to? In thirty minutes I could be back down in a pub eating a full Scottish breakfast.
Grudgingly, I started up, praying just to make it to that final stair in the distance.
And when I did, heaving in triumph, the path turned again, and I found a staircase three times longer than the one I’d just finished.
This is not God’s best pep talk: “If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?”
Jeremiah complains. And God assures him: it’s gonna get so much worse. You think this is a big staircase?
But there is a note of hope in God’s reply. If you can hear it from the bottom step.
You are meant to run with horses.
Not only will you climb these stairs, but the ones after them. And the scree switchbacks after that, and the steep icy section, and the boulder field.
You will step onto the highest rock and look down on the clouds. Because you were made for the mountaintop.
Which is so much farther than you imagine.
Give me the strength for this mountain. And the one beyond it.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.