My ascent begins at the base of the mountain, on an asphalt road under the “Start” banner . It continues up until the road ends suddenly and becomes a dirt trail . I hike the dirt trail that circles the mountain until it becomes a path in and out of bushes and trees. When the path disappears in the undergrowth the climb becomes steeper and I start pushing my self from tree to tree, sometimes lunging to grab the next pine. Now there are no trees or bushes to aide me. The ground is bare here and I must grab jagged rocks and loose roots to continue.
I meet others trying the same climb. I pass some sitting the dirt crying because they can’t reach the next level. Others come back at me, going down. They shout warnings as they shoot by me.
“Give up! There is nothing at the top. You are wasting your time and energy!”
Others disagree but caution, “They are wrong. There is something there, but it isn’t worth the pain.”
Some offer help and reward if I return with them. “Come down with me. We can set up shop at the bottom of the hill and sell boots to the fools who venture up, and water to the idiots who return.”
To each I say a firm “No.” The finish line is at the top and I must reach it, no matter the cost.”
My hear is pure, I know my goal. My hands are clean, I have not cursed rock or root. I will not even stop to rest, for sleep is an idol that may rob me of my chance to finish.
When I hunger and thirst I find a piece of fruit placed in my path. Someone is favoring me. It vindicates my climb, and pushes me on.
Now I reach a ledge, with a stone stair case leading even further upwards. I don’t take time to rest. I continue, one step at a time. My knees weaken and my thighs ache and burn, but I can not stop.
Eventually I reach a large wooden door, and I must stop. How do I get past this?
A word is carved in the door in letters 10 feet high that stretch from frame to frame. It says “Selah.”
I know the verse, from Psalm 24:9 (NIV). I declare it as loud as my tired body can push it out.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates, be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”
The door creaks, but does not open. A voice from beyond the barrier responds.
“And who is this King of Glory?” .
I answer according to the scripture.
“The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates, lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”
It asks me again.
“Who is this King of Glory?
I answer again.
“The Lord Almighty, he is the King of Glory!”
The door opens. I step back but don’t wait for the door to open all the way. Home is just ahead.
Now I walk on pavestones, leading to another entry point, a rectangular space in an ivy covered wall. There is an frame, but no door. For the first time I hesitate to enter. Someone lives here at the finish line. The King of Glory is the master of this house.
I kneel to confess my low station. I am but a climber who has reached his goal.
His servants greet me and lift me to my feet.
“Who may stand in his holy place?” I ask them.
They check my hands, palms and finger nails. They stare in to my eyes, to check my soul.
“He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.”
We walk together. I am shown my room, and my I receive my reward; duties to serve my king.
The race is finished, and now real life begins.
“Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.”
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