People used to tell me “If God told you all the plans He has for your life at once you wouldn’t be able to handle it.” And I liked when people said that, because it communicated to me unfathomable potential. It made my imagination start brimming with signs, wonders, miracles, ministries, reputation, travel, opportunity. It brought to mind the verse that says that the things that Jesus did couldn’t be contained in all the world’s books and then the verse that says we will do greater things, and my mind would spin in circles trying to picture that. I liked the idea that He will do so much more with my life then I could even dream of. I liked the idea that He will take me to the place where a mountain no longer looks big, where the unfathomable has entered the realm of possibility.
As I’ve taken steps of obedience however, I’ve begun to see that the people that spoke that weren’t just talking about how big the fruit would be in my future, they were alluding to the process that would come as a prerequisite. While I still have the anticipation of the great promises God has given me for my future, I am realizing that there are big processes on the way to those big promises. I’ve realized if He showed me right now all that He wanted to do in and through my life I probably wouldn’t be able to say yes to the sacrifice that would be required on my part.
Some people, when they hear I’ve been to Nepal, ask me if I’ve ever climbed Mount Everest. This usually makes me laugh because, while it would be amazing to climb Mount Everest one day, it’s no simple feat. The process of actually getting to climb the Mountain can take months of acclimatizing, preparing, and climbing. You have to take multiple trips up and down parts of the mountain face to get your body ready for the final climb. Not to mention spending at least a year of physically conditioning before you even see the Mountain. Honestly, I would love to say I’ve stood on the highest peak in the world, but all of that work doesn’t sound very appealing to me.
Now say you could get to the peak of Everest another way. What if a plane could fly you up to that point and just drop you off? You could skip over a year of preparations for the instant gratification of the elevated position. But the ecstasy of standing on top of the world wouldn’t last long as you begin to have trouble breathing, your lungs begin to fill with fluid, and your brain swells. Your lack of preparation is killing you.
Sorry if that sounds a little extreme. But you wouldn’t be able to fly up to Mt. Everest anyway. So lets think a little more practically. What if you are feeling especially driven and you just decide to hike to the top in one straight hike? Who needs to acclimatize when you are young and strong? I don’t think I need to tell you that you would not only struggle with climate sickness but you would also not have the stamina to make it to the top. Your ambition would essentially kill you.
When you go through the proper procedures to climb Everest you take into account each leg of the journey and approach it step by step. You keep the peak in your mind and in your vision, but its not your only goal. You have many other steps and many other goals to get to that point. And at the end of each one you are able to stop, to catch your breath. When you can breath freely at that stage you are ready for the next one and you can go up higher.
This is why we have processes. This is why sometimes we have to take the long road. This is why most things don’t happen on our premature timelines. God brings us from one checkpoint to another to keep us alive. He doesn’t expect us to just arrive at our destination and be able to handle it. He brings us from glory to glory. Once we’ve adjusted to where He has us, He will once again call us higher, out of our comfort zone.
One year ago I left my “base camp” and began the journey up my mountain. When I did that I turned my back on the quick route to the promise. I knew that if I wanted to live (and thrive) on the top of the mountain, I would need to go through the process. So I made my plans and preparations, I strapped on my pack and began my journey.
There have been moments this year that I have been unable to catch my breath, when I’ve wanted to just lay down and rest, when I’ve wanted to compromise the promise because the process is too hard. But I’ve committed to only putting one foot in front of the other, to obeying the next step and then the one after that. And as I’ve walked, as I’ve gradually gone up higher, I can feel my capacity growing. I can feel my spiritual muscles getting bigger and the Breath of Life sustaining me.
I look forward and the goal still looks so far beyond my reach, but I look back and realize how far I’ve come from where I’ve started. I’m smack-dab in the middle of life’s processes and I’m loving every minute of it. I never want to shy from the processes that life brings to me. I don’t want to take the easy or quick route. I wouldn’t trade the refining, the molding, the strengthening, the breaking, the thriving, and the intimacy of this season for anything. When Jesus calls me to step up higher I want to be one who is willing to join for the whole journey.