My husband passed away just over six weeks ago. The pain is there, an unwelcome, constant, quiet companion that I’m getting used to; a mountain that needs to be climbed.
A few years ago, I was in a Bible study with some other women. I had to stop attending when I became too busy. The opportunity has presented itself once again and I’m grateful to take part. I clearly need to be immersed in Him.
Last week, we were studying Psalm 89, part of which says: The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name. These are two famous mountains in Israel. The facilitator of the study shared that Tabor is 1,886 feet high, while Hermon is 9,232 feet. My mind immediately recalled the memory of a “Tabor” that I had climbed.
My husband and I once stayed in a cabin beside a mountain. I decided to climb it. It was challenging me. I had no idea the things that God would reveal . . .
The owner of the cabin said he was busy at the moment, but would give me directions on how to reach the top. I didn’t wait. I could clearly see the path that should be taken just by looking at it from a distance. Away I went, eager to reach the summit. My husband decided to go golfing at the course beside the mountain. I told him I would call him on my cell phone whenever I stopped to take a break.
It seemed easy at first. It wasn’t that steep as I easily progressed up its side. But it started to change. The mountain began to have its way with me, taunting me as I walked. It was as though it was watching me. The owner had warned me about bears. I didn’t have any bells, so I began singing. Loudly.
The gentle slopes started to become not so gentle, but I was up for the challenge. I noticed a path off in the distance. Aha! I thought to myself. Lots of people have been up here before! But the path would abruptly stop in places and I was forced to climb vertical slopes. I quickly learned not to hang onto any dead branches, but to hang onto the green vegetation growing out of the rock.
I called my husband when I reached the first mount. I could see him clearly on the golf course. “Can you see me?” I asked as I waved my arms. He could not. I told him I could see the summit and I was going to try to make it. He was worried but he knew better than to tell me to stop.
A few hours later, with a few dents and scratches, I was standing on the summit. The view was breathtaking to say the least. It was a moment I would never forget. But a storm loomed in the distance. And it was coming my way . . .
About two-thirds of the way down, it started to pour. By the time I reached the cabin and walked in the door, I was thoroughly drenched and chilled to the bone, but my husband and I were never so happy to see each other! I promised I would never do anything like that again.
That night, as I warmed myself by the fire, the owner came to see us. I told him all about the adventure and about finding the path that others had so clearly used to climb the mountain. My eyes widened when he responded. “That is not a path that people have used, it’s a path that the animals have made!”
What did I learn from the experience?
· We may think we know the way and that the path is clear, but it’s best to check with someone who has been there before. Proverbs 16:9: The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
· There will always be challenges in life. Seek the One who made the mountain. He will keep you safe.
· Sometimes when you are right in the middle of something challenging, you can’t see the forest for the trees.
· The evil one will give you things to hang onto, but they will only cause you to fall. Hang onto things that are “green” and will help you.
· Sometimes you can see clearly what others are doing and sometimes they can’t see you.
· You cannot stay at the top of the mountain. Another storm will come to take you back to the valley, but God will help you with the next climb.
· Things are not always as they appear. A path may look well used, but it doesn’t mean you should be on it.
A wise pastor once told one of my daughters after her husband passed away that Psalm 23 makes reference to walking through the valley of the shadow of death . . . that she should not stay there. Yes, I too am now walking that same path. Even though I am in the valley right now, I will continue to climb this mountain. It looks very high; much higher than the other mountains of pain I have climbed in my life. It is my Mount Hermon. But I will continually ask God to direct my path. He is with me in this valley. He will be with me when I reach the top.