A few years ago at a church I was serving at a group from our church went on a mission tour to Montana. We had a relax day and decided to go to the Continental Divide. We proceeded in a rickety half bus up the hill, at times doubting our decision, but we made it to what we thought was the top. It wasn’t the top, but a place we could get out and “hike” to the top. The altitude at the top was somewhere around 11,500 feet, and we were approximately a quarter of a mile from the top when we got out of the bus and started our hike up to the top. I could tell the air was thin, but as we starting making our way up the trail I started passing some others who had run (for a short distance) and were now bent over gasping for more air to be able to breathe. As we got closer to the top I could really feel the lack of oxygen starting to take its toll on me and I stopped a few times to gather myself so I could go on. It was just about 50 steps from the top when it happened. A guy came up the trail on a pretty good walking pace and he was saying, “one step after the other, keep moving forward!” He said that phrase about ten times as he proceeded to the top without stopping. I thought, “sounds like good advice to me” and I started walking thinking “one step after the other, keep moving forward!” My concentration on moving forward started to overrule my body’s desire to just quit! I looked up and to my surprise, I was there, and I wasn’t even winded! I made it to the top. Oh what a view. There was a clear water lake below us about a half a mile away and it was beautiful. Had I turned around and headed back down, I would have missed seeing the beauty of God’s Creation. It was worth the effort and the advice from the stranger hiker helped me make it to the top. Here is a good definition of what the Continental Divide is the main series of mountain ridges in North America, chiefly the crests of the Rocky Mountains that form a watershed that separates the rivers flowing east into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico from those flowing west into the Pacific Ocean. So, water off one side goes to the Pacific Ocean and water off the other side goes to the Atlantic Ocean. The Continental Divide is a defining formation of mountains that is a division in our country. One side goes Pacific and the other side goes Atlantic. The trail I was on was at the dividing point. If I fell off that trail to the west I would roll into the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic if I fell the other way. (The trees at the bottom would have something to say about me going all the way to the ocean) The point is there is a division, a mighty division that has been there and will continue to be there for a long time. I believe the modern day church is on a path up a great divide as well. As we travel up this path, looking to the left and looking to the right seem just about the same, but they aren’t. One side takes our faith, our very belief foundation, and lets it roll into obscurity and the effect of that roll in the wrong direction weakens the effectiveness of the church and wastes the precious efforts of Holy Spirit filled believers. That side lives out an era of church life that was built around a building and not a group of believers sold out to Christ. Their traditions were formed from self interest and human wisdom and that wisdom is dated and lifeless. The other side takes the faith we know and allows it to be led by a very active and radical impression left by God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. It is fueled by God’s Spirit and is very up to date and active in an ever changing world. This faith is guided by God’s Word and held as precious by all who follow it and live it out. Paul wrote to the Colossians about such a faith in Colossians 2: 6-10 “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live in Him. You’re deeply rooted in Him. You’re well constructed upon Him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out: quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through empty traditions of human beings and the empty supersition of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in Him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without Him. When you come to Him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.” Pretty long scripture there, but an endless amount of truth for us to live by. Perhaps you have traveled in your Christian faith to this place where the air is thin and you are a little scared where to stand and worried you can’t make it to the top. I’m going back to the hikers words and to the Spiritual Hiker, Paul’s words to the Colossians. “One step after the other, keep moving forward!” It is important to keep moving, strengthened and guided by what you know and what you have learned from God’s Word and your faith in it. Don’t let misguided, lifeless teachings filled with man’s traditions deter you from reaching the top of your faith, where the view is awesome! Keep on the path, and know that your faithfulness to the truth will make every difference to those who come behind you. Whatever you do, Keep Moving Forward!!
Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines 25 or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. 26 Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living 27 so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. 28We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ 29 Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it? 30 “God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better – but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change.
How Radical will this life change be for you?
The Pilgrimage continues…..