Monday, July 4, 2011

HIking to the Cross

 For the last 10 days we had the pleasure of hosting New Life Church from Columbus, Ohio. As many of you have seen or know, there is a mountain range that lays directly behind the community. Three crosses stand guard, watching the people in the valley below. At times, teams have made the trek up the mountain to see the crosses. This team also decided to go, and I wanted to join in on the experience. We took Randall and Kevin from the community with us. The weather was beautiful in terms of temperature, but it was exceptionally foggy. 


A mini bus came to the house and picked us up to take us to the base of the mountain. The guys were joking as we got closer and closer that they were dropping us off too close and it would be no challenge...And then we actually began climbing. The beginning of the hike was INTENSE. We walked up slippery, rocky terrain at a VERY steep incline. Fortunately the path leveled out and we could take a break. The view even from here was incredible. The only  downer was the thick cloud cover over the city.

The team decided to drink in the view at the scenic over look. It was a great place to rest...and tie Dean's shoe back together. Yup. Dean had brought a pair of work boots that were just a few years old (he admitted they were about 14 years old...) and the sole started peeling off from the toe back. They had been lovingly duck taped together, but the sharp incline and the rockiness of the terrain were proving too much for the boots. The guys went MacGuyver and tied the sole on with shoe laces. We resumed the hike.

Of course the two Ticos we brought with us had done the hike before. They must have been used to the altitude...Kevin hiked up in a sweatshirt and jeans without even breaking a sweat while the rest of us huffed and puffed through the thinner air.

There came a point in the trail where we could see the cross directly before us. So close...straight up the side of a hill. The challenge was on: stay on the path and curve around and up the mountain or go straight up the side through the pasture. Six of the group were up for it. Straight up they went. Including Randall, one of the bravest guys I know here.I took the long path. As we were walking, I commented to one of the guys, isn't that some times how it is for us as Christians? God calls some of us to go straight up, taking hard paths, but through green pastures, while for others of us there is a clear path that He makes for us and guides us on through the cleft of the rocks. Both are difficult walks, but both lead to the cross.

So we had made it! We made it to the cross!! Dean's shoe was mostly intact. Although Holly's was starting to come apart now...Several of the guys bowed down at the foot of the cross in reverent prayer. Several guys scaled up as high as they could up to the base of the cross. Some of us sat in silence. Others talked. Many people read the Bible. Of course we also had to document our feat (including a few pictures of me running to get back to the group before the timer went off on my camera).

But we were only to the first cross. We were only about 2/3 of the way to the top and the second cross. Again, isn't that just how the Christian life is? We get to the cross to come and die and realize God has called us to so much more. He has called us to pursue Him even further. To keep going. He has something else in store for us.

So we continued climbing, pursuing the cross. Then one of my favorite memories of the trip happened...I was following behind three of the group. We were going up this steep ravine like area where we were surrounded by rocks that were at least 6 feet high. I heard something about head level and turned to look directly into the eyes of a cow. I yelled ahead "Hey, who else saw the cow?" They turned to yell "What the heck are you talking about?" Only to see a cow literally 18 inches from the path they had all missed. On our way back, the  guys spotted another cow on the path.

The hike to the second cross was much shorter and we made it in less than 20 minutes. At the top we read the crucifixion and resurrection and ended with the Great Commission.

 Matthew 28:
 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This is what the Ohio team did. They went out to make disciples of Costa Rica for the Lord. They came to teach and obey. And Jesus was with us and guided us, each on our own path to the cross.

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