Some High Country Lessons for the Journey

By Curtis K. Shelburne

 

Mountain people or lake people. Most people (except the few ambi-altitude, as in “ambidextrous,” folks I know) are mostly either one or the other. Wherever they live, if given half a chance, they’ll tend to gravitate toward one or the other.

I love the beauty from both directions, but it’s the mountains for me (and I get streams and mountain lakes tossed into the bargain). My wife and I started this week as I was preaching and singing at a wonderful community church in the mountains at Red River, New Mexico. What a start!CurtisShelburne

I’ve been singing Christmas songs all year (the Christmas album comes out this month!), so even though it’s barely September, I’m already in a mountain snow mood. (I always am! “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”) My favorite time of year is when our family heads to Red River for a few days of high country laughing, skiing, playing, soaking in beauty, and enjoying snow-time together. The someone who said that nothing in nature is more beautiful than snow is someone who is right.

So I’m sitting here now in Red River with a noon deadline for this column, and I’m thinking about . . . let me see . . . snow! As long as I’m thinking about it, may I share, in no special order, some lessons all wrapped up in the mountain white stuff?

1) In life, it’s important to ski the part of the mountain you’re on. We all get tired sometimes and scared. But wasting time staring down a steep hill helps not at all. You can’t ski the whole slope at once, and you don’t have to. Don’t try. Jesus put it this way: “Take no anxious thought for the morrow.”

2) Everybody falls sometimes, but falls are rarely fatal, even though they may hurt. Since Jesus took the fall for us all, grace wins the day!

3) When you fall, get up, and when someone offers to help you, let them! Jesus not only has offered, he wants to live in you, giving you resurrection power to go on.

4) The journey is better when shared. Scores of elk are more beautiful when you see them with people you love. Feeding ducks on a mountain pond is better with grandkids. Sliding down snow is more fun together. Riding up the slope is better together. Even falling hurts less when you hear the laughter of someone you love who’s seen you bite the mountain but they know you’re okay. Count on dinner being more entertaining as the story of your crash is retold! The church, by the way, is God’s people making the journey together.

5) Mountains don’t just happen. Someone amazing created the beauty of the hills, the joy of the falling snow. (I can hardly imagine the “faith” it must take to believe otherwise.)

6) If it’s genuine joy, it’s God’s joy. The view from the mountaintop. Grandkids’ smiles. God’s well never runs dry. He delights in giving it away.

The psalmist cast his vote long ago: “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills!” Me, too! And to the God who made them.