Spiritual Mountain Climbing
The Bible is a map of the path up the mountain. In mountain climbing, the terrain becomes steeper and steeper, but with each level there is greater vision. It is part of my spiritual mountain climbing. Pondering God’s character through his stories renews my mind, keeps my focus on him, and helps me see clearer and deeper.
Seven Mountain Levels
I journaled 2 Peter 1:2-7. This passage reveals how we can take part in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires by climbing the seven levels of the mountain.
And for this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
The mountain top is crowned with God’s glory. Going higher and being able to see you are getting closer to the top is energizing. The closer we get to the top, the more humble and holy we become.
King David speaks of the hill of the LORD in Psalms 24:
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD?
or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…
It is critical to have a sure footing before going to another level, else we slip and slide back several levels. A nasty fall can end with serious wounds that take a long time to heal and seriously delay the journey.
There is a need to stay at each plateau long enough to learn what God is teaching us. Moving too quickly can be dangerous. Our zeal or our want-it-now mentality can make us want to take a helicopter shortcut to the top in order to skip levels, but the climb is an important step-by-step learning experience. Remember, the most attractive shortcuts can lead to disaster.
Spending time Bible journaling (Inductive method) and marking key words makes me slow down (as opposed to rushing through the reading to get on with my list of a zillion things to do today) as I focus on God’s word.
Each level of the mountain demands constant reference to the map and prayerful evaluation of our current footing and vision. Without a sure foundation, the higher up we go, the more dangerous the climb becomes.
Moving at God’s pace, following God’s direction, with firm foundations on every level, we get closer and closer to the top. Doubt will cause us to teeter on a ledge. The closer to the top we go, the more glory we see and the more spiritual fruit is evident in our lives. The higher we go, the more critical it is to refer to the map. God forbid we forget the map on any level.
The spiritual ascent is not a work, but becoming or transformation. You can’t hide when you’re on the mountain. Weaknesses and strengths are exposed. The goal for the climb will determine how high and successful the climb is. The higher up the mountain we go, the fewer people will be found.
A climb for personal recognition will be shallow and eventually fail. A submissive, humble climb with the purpose of honoring God will cause one to ascend each level, revealing less of self and more of Christ.
Lightening the Load
During the climb, works of the flesh are exposed openly until they are cut away. If this flesh is not cut away it is almost impossible to have pure motives. This is a spiritual circumcision, ridding us of the carnal nature that makes climbing difficult.
As we go higher, we mature and our motives change. The path will become increasingly lighter and brighter. Once high enough to get a glimpse of God’s glory, we will be elated. Our thoughts will become more like his thoughts. Our actions will become more like his actions. We will become more and more humble in the light of his glory. Our time will be spent going higher and going back to help others climb, as he helps others climb.
Each of these qualities builds on the previous quality. Each virtue helps us develop the next one. They are like the sections of a telescope: one leads into the other (Wiersbe). Each level contains a gold mine of wisdom if we take the time to experience and investigate the level. As we climb each level, we should see more fruit of the Spirit in our character.
We begin the mountain climb on the faith ledge. We ascend to the glorious top to find perfect love. Trust is an essential trait for those who climb the mountain. We get a sure footing on this ledge by believing in God, knowing he is real, and understanding that he loves us. If we move to another level before we have this sure footing, we will later fall.
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6).
Stumbles and Falls
I have fallen many times. I tried climbing from the faith ledge to virtue and knowledge ledges while I doubted God’s love for me. Accepting the love of God through Christ is a basic truth I did not have a firm grip on. Not understanding God’s love for me caused me to stumble, never allowing me the required sure footing needed for a successful climb.
Unforgiveness and resentment caused me to stumble and fall and become wounded, hindering my climb. Such sins cause bitterness, bondage, and strongholds. At the time, I didn’t realize why I wasn’t getting victory over sin in my life—I didn’t understand the reason I struggled with the same sins over and over.
Forgiving others would heal my wounds and allow me to climb strongly again, but somewhere on the journey, when I hadn’t taken thoughts captive, I allowed unforgiveness back inside, resulting in deeper wounds. Hurtful wounds caused more sin and obstructed my climb even more. I would be stuck on a level, recovering but frustrated that I was not climbing higher. At times I knew what was holding me back, but other times I was deceived and didn’t understand the reasons.
I also stumbled several times by being impatient. I can look back at my disastrous attempts to find a quicker path than the path God chose. We can only increase to higher elevations without falling by waiting on God’s perfect timing.
Dusting Off and Climbing Again
Praise God, I know I can slip and stumble, incur wounds and injuries, and suffer setbacks but our loving Father continually picks me up and helps me find the path again. Isaiah 58:8-9
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Rejoice in the Adventure!
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. God’s paths are straight, his paths are narrow. To follow, keep your eyes on him. Climbing these levels can be very hard, especially when faced with unexpected or particularly difficult challenges, but the climb can be seen as exciting when we reach this stage. It becomes an adventure—a chance to see what God will do next and how he will work out the situation.
Prayer: Father, may the purpose for which you have created me and placed me where you have in the world be fulfilled completely. Amen!