I love to hike to the top of Tablerock. It is 3.6 miles to the top with a vertical climb of 2,000 feet. Not so easy. Along the way, there are several rock plateaus that afford beautiful views, and one could stop there and still enjoy the… partial… climb.
But you won’t see the view from the top. And you won’t know what you are missing.
I have watched groups start with the fixings for the picnic they think they are going to have at the top: folding chairs, picnic baskets, and even a boom box. And I’ve watched those same groups who, after an hour or so of climbing, realize they have a decision to make. They will either settle for less by stopping at a lower plateau, or they will shed some of their stuff to go higher. They can’t hold onto all of their things and still go for the top.
Most settle for the lower plateaus and never know what they’re missing.
Once we get off the broad road to destruction and enter through this narrow gate, we’re on the adventure of a lifetime! We’re growing spiritually, our enthusiasm is energized, and we feel so close to the Lord. Jesus is now our friend as well as our Savior, and we feel the difference in our hearts.
But… after a while, we plateau. We flatten out. “What happened to my enthusiasm? I was on such a high. Now, I feel like I’m drifting… sort of aimlessly. And I don’t like it.”
We all plateau. So we have to do things differently.
The mantra for fitness is “muscle confusion.” We can’t keep doing the same exercises week after week and expect to advance. We will plateau. And isn’t this true in our marriages? Ever been in a rut? And it’s true in all areas throughout our lives.
To get out of the rut, off our plateau, and moving onward and upward again, we must “bump the trajectory,” typically by shedding whatever is holding us back.
If you want things to be different, you have to do things differently.
Now, the real question is this: Are you satisfied with your spiritual life, or do you want things to be different? I know. I know… It sounds like a trick question. No one should ever be satisfied to the point of complacency, yet it is a wonderful place to be comfortable and confident in your relationship with the Lord.
But I’m asking if your spiritual journey has flattened out. Or, I guess I’m asking if you even care enough to consider it a journey with a desire to be making progress. Perhaps you’re comfortable with your weekly routine: church on Sunday and possibly a little extra here and there.
Jesus wants you to keep advancing. He knows what you are missing. So he invites you to drop whatever may be holding you back and to come closer and go deeper:
Then he said to them all: ”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23-25)
If you want the top of Tablerock, you’ll have to deny yourself some things.
Eugene Peterson tells of a time when he visited a monastery, and at the welcome meeting, the speaker said, “If you realize you forgot something you can’t live without, see one of the monks, and he’ll show you how to.”
Jesus says, “If you want this, come on, and follow me. But I’m going to the top, so be prepared to let go of a few things on the way. You won’t be able to save for yourself all the things you think you must have to be happy. I’ll show you how to let go of (lose) those things and find the life that is truly life.”
This is what Jesus meant by, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
Are you settling for less? Are you satisfied with the lower plateau? You’ll possibly achieve a semblance of a good life. But you will never know what you’re missing.
Or are you willing? Do you want to advance toward the top? You will never regret it. It is so worth the effort. It is immeasurably, abundantly more than anything you could ask or even imagine to ask for (see Eph. 3:22-24).