I stood at the base of the mountain along with the other climbers. Our guide made sure we had everything we needed for the long journey ahead of us.
“Do you have plenty faith in me? Are you filled with hope? Most of all, did you bring your staff of love? You are really going to need a sturdy staff if you are going to make it to the top of this mountain.”
Our guide really seemed to know what he was doing. I had heard he had climbed this mountain all by himself one time. He is the only one who has ever made it all the way to the top. I smiled to myself. Oh yes, I have all these things and more, so much more. I had a backpack full of stuff. I had been preparing to make this climb for a long time.
The base of the mountain was grassy and level. I looked around at some of the other climbers. They had backpacks too. I was a little envious of one of the other climber’s backpacks. It had more of those little compartments. Boy, I should have bought one like that. I could have stayed more organized. Our guide looked at me kindly. “Take your jealousy out of your bag. You won’t get very far with that weighing you down.” I took most of it out and left it at the base of the mountain.
As we began to climb, the mountain suddenly became quite steep. My backpack seemed to weigh twice as much as it before. Our guide turned to me, “Is there anything else you can leave behind? The climb would also be easier if you learned to lean on your staff a bit more too.”
Wow, was he good. I looked through my backpack and found some selfishness I certainly didn’t need. I also had been keeping a large record of things the other travelers seemed to be doing wrong, especially when they had wronged me. For some reason, it was difficult to leave these things behind. No matter how hard I tried, I kept picking them back up again. In fact, I picked up other things along the way, like anger, rudeness, and even pieces of delight when I saw other climbers having a hard time carrying their backpacks too. Most of the time, I forgot to lean on my staff.
We were really getting up there now. The air was thinner and I was having trouble breathing, let alone climbing much higher. I began leaning on my staff more often, but it had become as thin as the air and it didn’t seem to be helping me much. I was never going to make it to the top like this. Our guide looked over at me:
“I will help you get rid of everything that is weighing you down. All you have to do is ask.”
I fell to my knees in sheer exhaustion. “Please, please take away anything you want. I can’t make it up this mountain without your help.”
Instantly, he took my backpack from me. He didn’t even open it up to examine its contents. He didn’t have to. He took the entire thing and threw it headlong down the mountain. Then, he did something even more wonderful. He gave me his very own staff. Leaning on it, I stood up and started climbing again.
I still haven’t made it to the top of the mountain-- not by any means. I must admit there are days when I really miss my backpack and all the worthless stuff in it. I even go back down the mountain and pick it back up from time to time. On several occasions I have been known to borrow other climber’s backpacks and carry theirs around for awhile. I am learning to give it to my guide as soon as I can so that he can throw it down the mountain—again.
The journey has been much tougher than I ever thought it would be. It certainly has strengthened my faith and hope in my guide. Someday maybe I will learn how to live without my backpack. Someday maybe I will learn that his love the only thing I need. Maybe on that day I will have at last made it to the top of the mountain.
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