I tried something new this year. Typically, when we’re heading out of December and looking toward a new year in January, I spend some time on goal setting. But this past December, my typical process just didn’t sit well with my soul.
Instead, I started praying for a word or phrase that could characterize 2016 for me. Something I could come back to over and over, meditate on, dwell in. Looking back, I think I was hoping for a word of clarity, a word that would give me direction, that I could cling to and follow.
What I received instead was an invitation. An ambiguous one, at that:
“Follow me to the mountains.”
I’ve spent the last month mulling over that phrase, especially the word “mountains.”
That word packs a big punch for me. The mountains are the place I go when I desperately want to meet with Jesus. They’re the place I tangibly feel his presence the most often. The place where he’s shaped me, challenged me, comforted me. The place where I’ve learned hard lessons, and asked hard questions. The place where I’ve grown up. The place I feel the most alive and free.
But, there’s also another side to mountains I know well. They’re the place where you feel tiny as you stare at the gigantic peaks. The place of unknown. The place where being out of control isn’t just a feeling, it’s a stark reality. The place that demands your fear and respect. The place where the best laid plans change in an instant. The place where endurance and perseverance serve you well; where putting one foot in front of the other when you can’t see what’s in front of you – much less the mountain top – is a victory all its own.
The mountains are like life. Some seasons are like being on a mountain top – it’s peaceful up there, quiet, exciting, and you can see for miles. All feels right. And then there’s the valley. The unknown, the doubt, the wondering if we’ll ever get there. It feels pointless.
The mountains, I’m learning, are also like God: comforting, beautiful, majestic and at the same time, mysterious, out of my control, and powerful. God doesn’t fit in my box any more than the mountains do.
So, that invitation? The one to the mountains? It’s an invitation to dig deeper into the complexities of God. An invitation to follow Him into the unknown. An invitation to sit in the tension between what I know, and what I thought I knew.
It’s an invitation to wonder, an invitation to trust him with the mystery.
“Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?”
The disciples desperately wanted answers, clarity, direction. I imagine Jesus’ response didn’t do much to quell their anxieties at the time:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Jesus didn’t offer a clear answer or a 10-step plan. Instead, he offered himself.
And that’s what he so graciously offers me, too. When all I want is a clear-cut path, to know where I’m going, Jesus gently answers my plea for direction with,
“Follow me to the mountains. I am the way.”
Where is Jesus inviting you to follow him this year?