When I was in high school, my parents took some youth to Yosemite to hike half dome. We had to get up super early to hike up to the base, and then we had to climb “the cables.” It is always windy up there, and hard to keep your footing on the face of the rock. The cables run from the base to the top so that you can hold on with both hands as you walk up the rock. When we got to the base I panicked. I am afraid of heights, but I had been looking forward to this trip for months. The culmination of the hike is climbing the cables, and getting to see the entire valley from the top of Half Dome. As everyone grabbed on and started climbing, I looked up and thought, “Nope, this is not going to happen.”
My Mom (who is afraid of nothing, and actually did a handstand atop Half Dome) eventually coaxed me onto the cables and we began to make our way to the top. My legs were shaking, I was crying, and we had to stop about every five feet for a pep talk. My Mom knew I would regret if I didn’t make it so she stood behind me and talked me up the mountain. At one point, I kid you not, the family in front of us dropped a camera and I watched it bounce down the face of the rock and smash into a million pieces. This did not help my fear. When we got to the top, every tear-filled, shaky step was worth the view. I was terrified, I didn’t know if I would make it, but my Mom spurred me on, and I got to enjoy the view from the mountaintop. If she hadn’t walked with me, and talked me through it, I would have never made it to the top.
Advent week 3 is about telling. The angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds in Luke 2, and they immediately go to see Jesus for themselves. After they see their savior, exactly as the angels had told them, and exactly as they had heard about for years, what is their response?
“Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about the child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…” Luke 2:17-18
They tell everyone. It doesn’t say they went back and talked about it amongst themselves, or they praised Him (that comes later), it says they told everyone. This carol sprang from the shepherd’s story:
“Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”
When I thought about the words to that song, I thought, “why mountains?” Why do we need to go tell it “on the mountain?” A mountain is tall, it’s treacherous, it’s majestic. A mountain is something to be climbed before the telling begins. It is something to overcome before we can tell of this Jesus we know about. And a mountain is somewhere that people can see. You can communicate to many people from on top of a mountain, and people can see you up there on that mountain. So what is the mountain you need to tell it on?
There is always some thing in our lives that has been difficult to climb. These things are filled with tears, with shaky steps, with uncertainty, but we climb them. We climb to the top, and we overcome whatever it is we are facing. And just like the cables guide us up the rock and get us to the top, the Lord is walking with us as we go. He is showing us the way, keeping us stable, and making sure we can reach the top. He speaks to our fears, and doesn’t let us go alone. And some mountains take forever, and we’ll always be climbing them, but He is always there.
So why do I hesitate when people ask “How did you get through it?” Why do I say things like “I got lucky,” or “I just got through it,” or “what other choice did I have?” No, the answer is God. God got me through it. God walked me up this terrible mountain, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here, at the summit, enjoying the view because God walked me up here. He held my hand, and guided my way, and made sure I didn’t fall all the way back to the bottom.
Would I let someone walk past the cables on their way up Half Dome and try to scale it by themselves? Would I watch them struggle with the wind, and try to find ways to hold onto the rock as they made it to the top? Would I just watch them try and fail over and over, as I cling to the cables? I would hope that I would call to them, and say “Hey, there’s an easier way.” I hope that I would tell them there is something to cling to, and there is a way that has already been made for us. They could probably at some point make it to the top on their own, but not without a lot of failing, and a lot of pain. If I could offer someone the way to life, would I withhold that information?
Also, why do you think that mountain is in your life? He guided you, and so many others before you, up that mountain so that others could see you. They can see that you’ve struggled, and they can see that you’re on the other side, and they can call to you, and ask for answers. We are on top of our mountains for a reason, and it’s not just to be proud and enjoy the view, it’s to show others that it is possible, and that there is a way, and that way is Jesus!
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
If you’re climbing up a mountain, and feeling like there’s no way up, look around you. Try to find someone who is climbing alongside you, or try to find someone who is at the top. When I had my first kid, and boy was that a mountain, I sought counsel from mothers who were at the top. I looked at mothers who had kids who were not crying, or nursing, or sleeping around the clock. I looked at them and thought “Okay, there is a top to this mountain.” And I asked them how, and I asked them what path to take, and I asked them to pray for me, and walk with me.
As I get further and further up this mountain of parenting, I look behind me. I look back and make sure that the mothers around me are holding onto the cables. I make sure that they are clinging to what they know is certain, what they know will get them to the top. What is your mountain? What is that thing that you’ve been through that was so hard that you didn’t think you’d make it? Then, look around. Are there others climbing a similar mountain? Are there others climbing any mountain? Stand at the top of your mountain, or on the way up, or even at the bottom and tell someone how to get up it. Tell them to cling to the cables, cling to the God who is certain, who has lead others up the mountain, and will never let them down.
In week 3 of Advent, as we get closer to the most important birth of our faith, how are we telling people about the savior of the world? How are we using this time of celebration to talk about what it is we are celebrating? Like the shepherds, let’s go tell it on our own personal mountains that Jesus Christ is born, and that he got us to where we are, and will continue leading us up any mountain we may face.