"Because it's there!" was mountaineer George Mallory's answer to a reporter who asked why Mallory wanted to climb Mt Everest. Many of us can understand this; the Earth's mountains are, on the average, big enough to be challenging but small enough to look climbable. And there are a wide variety of shapes and sizes, offering our imaginations both serenity and challenge.
Our lives are like that--designed to be challenging. When Adam left the Garden, he left the peaceful and easy life behind. But if life is too easy, we get soft and sloppy. Even our muscles are made to grow through stress. When stresses hit, sometimes we are tempted to think that God is somehow to blame; we think He's neglecting or ignoring us, or punishing us, or being "mean" to us. I think it's more likely to be that He's waiting--giving us a chance to deal with the stress, or learn something from it, or learning that we can't deal with it alone.
The Israelites under Moses faced mountains along their journey to the Promised Land--which itself has a variety of mountain ranges and dramatic vistas. Elijah challenged the priests of Baal on Mt Carmel. Some of Jesus' northern ministry was in the shadow of Mt Hermon; we have records of his Sermon on the Mount; the Transfiguration event is traditionally identified with Mt Tabor. The most difficult night of Jesus' life was on Mount Calvary. The Mount of Olives was the site of both His agonized prayer and Hiss ascension back to His Father..
Mountain climbing requires strength, conditioning, planning, equipment, and more--not something that you should do on the spur of the moment. (My niece and I did that once, when the family was picnicking near Mt Baker. Fortunately, we didn't get lost or fall; we came to a sheer wall and went back--to very stormy mothers!) We run up against "mountains" of different kinds in our lives; this world is a challenging place.
We as a church have spent five years in exile on a mountain. Beautiful location, gracious hosts, but now we are being led to tackle a mountainous task—making a new ascent on the neighborhood at Sierra Way. We are facing the mountains of a challenging property; a dysfunctional city and a world that seems to get more corrupt and dangerous every day. Do we have the strength; are we being equipped for this climb? Some of our women are having a mountaintop experience this weekend. Are we willing to learn and grow and put our fate in the hands of a the only capable Guide?