"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him" James 1:12.
From our backyard in Colorado Springs we have the privilege of viewing Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountain range. At over 14,000 feet, it’s one of the highest mountains in the southern Rockies.
There are many ways to ascend this titan. My favorite is the cog railway.
Regular trains are not able to make the steep climb, so a track with cogged notches makes the trip possible as it grabs the gear-like wheels of the train. Cutting a restricted passageway through the aspens, it's a straight rise to the summit.
One autumn day my family and I shared this jaunt with several tourists. We enjoyed panoramic views of the city below, passing thick forests, mountain lakes and herds of elk.
When the tree line and grass disappeared, the lack of oxygen and cold, harsh winds made signs of life scarce. We passed a small, makeshift cross protruding from a pile of rocks. It was placed there in remembrance of two young newlyweds who perished trying to reach the top.
The setting became an unwelcome, almost hostile environment. But we were safe with the conductor, inside the comfort of the train.
Once at the top, a gift store offered a variety of steaming drinks and warm, out-of-this-world donuts. Clearly, the cog rail was the way to travel.
As I sipped my hot cocoa during our descent, I reflected on the excursion. I couldn't help but see the similarity of this adventure to our Christian life.
The journey can be breath-taking, but at times difficult. The narrow climb straight up is often arduous and slow-going. If not for God's fingers acting as divine cogs, we'd surely slip backwards, crashing to the bottom.
How often I have slipped, losing more ground in a single moment than I'd gained all year.
We have a satisfying community with other believers who are on this train with us. But sadly, at times we see the misfortune of those who tried to find alternate ways to God.
We aren't promised an easy road. The atmosphere can be unfriendly when following Christ. But the reward at the top is sweet if we finish the journey.
We're never promised a life of ease as believers. We are however, promised life more abundant.
Here at Jesus Film Project, we created some follow-up films for Africa and for India. They contain episodes showing how a village responds after seeing the "JESUS" film.
Much like the trials of the early Christians we read about in Acts, chapter 16, new believers in these areas experience trials as they try to live out their newfound faith.
Some even die.
These mountains they climb may not be literal, but they are no less difficult. Would you join me in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world who right now are experiencing loneliness, rejection, even martyrdom for following Jesus?
If you like, type your prayer for them in the comments below. Who knows, they might just see it and be encouraged.