We Don't All Climb the Mountain the Same Way
Jill, the fab four (our kids), and I are on vacation this week in the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania. Taking in a change of scenery and pace, with the same loved-ones, is good for the soul. As city folk, we don’t do a lot of hiking. Give us a busy sidewalk or crowded intersection and we will crush it -- but we aren’t all hikers.
This morning, we ventured out on a hike up a nearby mountain trail. “Moderate” was their description as I am not sure I would have enough knowledge to possibly classify this adventure in advance.
After reminding the younger kids that flip-flops are not suitable footwear for today’s outing -- I’m not totally inexperienced as an outdoorsmen -- we headed out.
When I look back on these sorts of experiences with my family, I find them so fascinating. In the moment, I often fail to see the complaining about tiredness or the concern over not having enough water to survive a three-mile hike to be less than encouraging. In fact, I get down right grumpy OR I struggle to keep my cool dad veneer when confronted with the different paces and skill levels of my family on a hike. But when I reflect on the different levels of enthusiasm each member of our family brings to different experiences, God reminds me of the beauty to be found in diversity. While I, in my selfishness, may desire uniformity, God is vastly more innovative in his creating each of us with different ways of seeing the world around us.
For some in my family, this hike was something to look forward to as needed time in nature, for others it was basically their cross to bear for the morning, but for all of us, it was what we were going to do together as a family. And that’s the thing, we may have a diversity of opinions in how we perceive or experience something, but we had unity in the fact that we are a family who does these things together.
As we set out on the hike, everyone tipped their hands as to how they were approaching this thing. As quickly as one my boys grabbed a map to chart the course, my other son grabbed “the perfect walking stick” AKA sword.
A half mile up the mountain, the terrain got rocky and the rain started. For some, the added degree of difficulty was a welcome challenge and they quickened ahead. For others, the slippery elements were cause to call it a day and go back. It was then that we clearly communicated the vision to everyone: “You can move at your own pace, you can enjoy it or complain, but all of us are going to reach the top so we can see the view together.”
And we did. No one criticized another for how they traveled up the mountain or what the look on their face was as they did, we were all unified in our vision, not in how we achieved it.
The summit was incredible. The rain cleared and we had 180 degree views extending from valleys below to portions of the Appalachian Trail. It was truly breathtaking. And everyone was celebrating each person’s unique way of participating in the journey.
I can’t help but see how this morning’s hike reminds me of the church. We are a band of misfits, bringing a diversity of views on how we see the journey. Yet, in Christ, we are unified as a family with a common vision. As we participate in this life together, we are free to bring our unique perspective (diversity) into the whole experience together (unity).
I am learning that there is profound beauty in this present reality.