“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth?
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber…
The Lord is your Keeper…
No harm…both now and forevermore” (Ps 121)
THE DANGERS ON THE MOUNTAIN
Mountaineering is considered to be one of the most dangerous activities in the world. Loss of life is not uncommon. Dangers are divided in two groups:
*Outside dangers come from bad weather, falling of stones, avalanches in the winter, wild animals….
*Dangers that depend on the climber are equipment failure and falls, due to inattention, fatigue or faulty technique.
The most difficult climbs are when the mountain is vertical or covered with ice.
The climbers use a system of ropes and skillfully they tie themselves to the mountain. They use ice axes in both hands to grip the ice. Their shoes are special with spikes on the soles.
Along the paths there are special Shelters. The tired pilgrims can stop for a time to rest. There are people who supply food, blankets and medicines in these isolated cabins. The leader of the group knows where these shelters are located and take advantage of their blessings.
These are some injuries common among mountain climbers: falls (end in bone fractures or death): heart failure (from lack of oxygen and too much effort); frostbites (from ice); blindness (from snow and sunshine); hunger and thirst; depression and mental disturbance from altitude sickness, and others.
The Rock and the climber are intimately close one to the other. The mountain must be his friend. He has to trust the Rock he climbs, if not, he shall fall to his death.
A rock climber needs strength and wisdom. His maturity and experience is shown by his choice of handhold and foothold. He has to be sure that the rock he holds on is secure and strong enough to carry his weight. Many rocks look strong but are loose and not connected with the mountain itself. They can betray the climber and can fall with him to his death.
Mountaineering is basically team work. The colleagues have to trust and help one another. They tie themselves with ropes so that if one makes a mistake, the others can prevent his fall. The great principle is that of co-operation. When one moves, the others must know. Each is to know what the one ahead and the one below is doing. The unity of the Spirit is life. All arguments and quarrels are fatal. All climbers must submit and trust their leader and one another, if not they all perish.
These are true facts and information I collected from books of mountain climbing as a sport. All these have a spiritual application. Pray that the Holy Spirit may open your eyes to see the truth as we continue to climb the mountain of spices!
THE ETERNAL CLIMB
Psalm 121 in the next step we shall take to climbing higher on the mountain of God. This is the second Psalm in the series called The Songs of ascent. Each year, the Jews were commanded to go to the Temple in Jerusalem to meet with God. The city is on a hill called Zion. Going to the Temple was never easy for it meant going up the mountain.
Please read this Psalm some few times and pray about it. Let the Holy Spirit give you a picture to inspire you in your Christian pilgrimage. God is revealed as my Strength, my Support, my Shade and as my Savior. It is called ‘the traveler’s psalm’. There is a sense of expectation of greater things and the desire to go to a higher place, trusting God to help in the ascent.
Let’s identify with this pilgrim of hope and glory…
The first thing we see is that the traveller recognizes his need of God, to help him in his journey. He starts from the lower ground. Looking up, He openly acknowledges that he needs help. He knows that God alone is the Helper to the helpless. His perceived needs during the climb, the many dangers along the way, they remind him that God alone is his Keeper to the end.
This is the first important lesson: Help comes from outside (God) not from inside (my wisdom or experience)! The devil attacks trying to convince us that ‘God helps them who help themselves: That is a lie! This deception reveals the loss of true vision!
I read somewhere that the female mountain deer comes down to the lower slopes to have her babies. The weather is more gentle and the grass more fresh. But as soon as her children are strong enough to climb, she hurries them to go higher up the mountain. This is because the danger below is greater; the wild animals are many roaming around in the valley.
The call to go higher spiritually is there because of the need for protection from the enemy’s attacks. The higher we go, the safer we shall be, the greater the peace and hope we shall experience. Monitor your spiritual ‘pulse’ and see…the proof that you are maturing…less anxiety, less confusion coming from the world ‘below’ and more assurance and peace with each step. .
The pilgrim has a vision of God and of his destiny. He lifts his eyes to the top of hills. But he does not stop there. He continues to gaze in faith to the sky above the hills, searching for the face of God. He is Jehovah Elohim, the Maker of heaven and earth. This is a journey on the ladder that Jacob saw. Each step will put a distance between the earth, our temporary home and heaven, our eternal and glorious abode. This is a journey of faith and hope, confident that our future shall be better than our past.
If you lose the vision of the One calling you heavenward, your foot may slip and you shall be in danger of falling ‘back to earth’.
God is the Creator of the Universe but He is also my personal guide and strength in this vertical journey. For some time, you shall still hear the voice of the world calling you back to the valley. The religious unbelievers who were your friends down yonder do not want you to move on. These are jealous on your progress but unwilling to pay the price and follow you.
The answer to this temptation is this: Be not like Lot’s wife! Do not look back! Look up! Keep climbing! Helper is coming soon!
Six times God is described as my keeper in this Psalm. The word in Hebrew means a Person who is personally interested in my protection and success. He is a watchman who never sleeps nor slumbers. God never yawns!!! This is a picture that has helped me many times. God knows my weaknesses and the dangers from outside. He teaches me and surrounds me with care. He totally protects me from anything that will make me fall or fail. He strengthens me and encourages me within. He also defends me from ‘smites’ coming from outside. It is His hand that blocks the hand of the enemy who wants to slap me or to pull me down. The word ‘hand’ means power, sense of direction, resources, fellowship and ministry. Practically, the closer I get to God, the more I get involved in serving Him in any ministry, the more I am covered and protected from the attacks from evil people.
The sun and the moon cannot ‘smite’ me as I climb. What does it mean?
During the forty years of wandering in the desert, the ‘shekinah’ pillar of glory directed the people of God towards the Promised Land. It also protected them from the deadly heat during the day. In the night, the cloud of fire provided enough light so that the journey towards the Promised Land can continue. They did not directly depend on the sun and the moon. But the same cloud of glory that protected and guided the people of God, the same was deadly against their enemies. In this Psalm, God assures me of His total protection and blessings coming from His Glorious presence. I have no excuse wasting time. I should pay the price for sanctification unto spiritual maturity! But just like with the Egyptians who pursued the people of God, my enemies shall be smitten, fall and die if they try to pull me down the slopes, to backslide to the world.
The mountain of God is safe only for the true climbers, for the children of God in pilgrimage to a higher ground of maturity! The same is a deadly trap for the religious unbelievers, for false brethren and magicians.
“On the third day God will come down on Mount Sinai and make His presence known to all the people. Post boundaries for the people all around, telling them: ‘Warning! Don’t climb the mountain. Don’t even touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain dies—a certain death. And no one is to touch that person, he’s to be stoned. That’s right—stoned. Or shot with arrows, shot to death… Animal or man, whichever—put to death!’
A long blast from the horn will signal that it’s safe to climb the mountain” (Ex 19:11-13, TM)
The sun and the moon were created by God and given as a gift to the earth for two basic reasons: for light (heat) and to mark the seasons (Gen 1:14). In the valley, I depended on the natural created things, for guidance, encouragement and strength during the transitions in life. But as I climb the mountain, I shall depend less on visible or natural things. My strength and vision shall change and become more spiritual. From now on, I shall depend on God who is my Shepherd and my Eternal Keeper.
‘Going out’ of my home, far from my comfort zone, to work or to war, when taking risk with strange encounters, all these shall be under the loving faithful, watching eye of my God. I shall not fear ‘going out’, travelling to see new things, far from my home.
The ‘coming in’ to my home, back to my routine, quietly abiding in His presence, this shall also be with joy, for God is here.
This is my testimony: In the different seasons of life, in all my transitions, in all my travels and in the long season of home dwelling… God is my peace, strength and joy! Inside and outside, God is my Keeper! I am safe and confident, sure of His salvation and hope!
God is my strength, my support, my shade and my salvation!
Who shall I fear? None!
Looking above the hills, I keep climbing!