When someone asks me about my dreams for the future, I typically respond with enthusiasm, as I love to consider myself a visionary with exciting plans. After all, it is important to set goals and move toward fulfilling them. Progress is paramount, and no progress can be made without a plan.
If I am honest with myself, however, after an initial sprint up the rocky trail, I have a tendency to grow weary halfway up the mountain. In the interest of cultivating the virtues of contentment and satisfaction, I tell myself that I am quite pleased right where I am. Breathless from the climb, I pause to reward myself with a much-deserved break and admire the view. I even discover that the view is stunning and linger longer than expected, finding myself reluctant to resume the trek. A thought nags at the back of my mind: Am I actually that content with what I see, or am I growing complacent and less passionate about the dream of reaching the pinnacle?
Somewhat begrudgingly, I force myself to abandon this hard-won vantage point and resume the now-arduous ascent. I find myself wondering why the thrill of finishing the climb has so quickly lost its appeal? Am I too easily satisfied with the immediate reward and therefore less motivated to press on? Even more disturbing, am I too quick to re-evaluate and abandon God’s promises? Am I simply unwilling to press on to the finish? Am I yielding to complacency and passivity? Have I lost my vision by exchanging it for something beautiful but far less glorious than the finished work?
Certainly, the view from the top of the mountain is far more breathtaking than the perspective from the halfway point, regardless of how lovely the pit stop view might initially appear. However, climbing higher has its price; the upward trail may involve affliction, buffetting, a stony or steep path, narrow passageways, or even unexpected encounters with wildlife. However, if I allow fatigue, complacency, and distraction to lure me into giving up before reaching the top, I will certainly miss the view from the pinnacle and fail to grasp the bigger picture. The ascent is doubtless worth the effort when I focus on the glorious view that awaits me above the treeline.
During this recent hike in Wyoming’s spectacular Teton Mountains, I found myself reflecting on my spiritual journey. While it may sound glorious to have high aspirations, even dreams and visions, actually making the climb is often far from glorious. Often such climbs are fraught with challenges. Do I want to be a person who resists moving onward and upward, despite difficulties, or do I want to be satisfied with where I am and fail to reach the goal? More often than not, speaking with great enthusiasm and passion about a dream comes easily to me, but actually moving forward with realizing the dream is another matter entirely!
In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul urges us to press on to the goal without wavering: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)