19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:19-21 NIV
On a recent climbing trip to Mexico with some friends, I was struck by just how counter-culture the climbing community can be. Our merry little band spent a week scrambling up talus strewn drainages, cleaning tons of loose rock and vegetation off a new route, and wandering through hillsides covered with spiny plants bent on our destruction. The last few days we were rained out and spent most of our time in our tents. On the way back we waited 7 and a half hours at the border trying to get back into the country. All in all the vibe was very positive and nobody really complained. We even joked amongst ourselves that one day climbing will be considered a mental illness; why else would a person find so much suffering to be so much fun?
One thing that stood out to me on this trip is how much climbers value the climbing experience. We are willing to give up precious vacation time, resources, blood, sweat, and tears, just to climb on some rocks. I found myself thinking, “why do people do this? What is it about climbing that has so many hooked, myself included?” In El Portero Chico Mexico where our group spent a few days there is a multi-pitch climb entitled “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” I think that sums it up succinctly. Climbers are willing to go through a great deal of trial and hardship including the risk of injury and death because they treasure everything that is wrapped up in the climbing experience.
In a very real way climbing connects us with something primal and spiritual. It strips life down to a simple, organic, and moment by moment set of choices that is both freeing and invigorating. In a very tangible way climbers are trying to connect with their Creator through His creation, though most don’t seem to realize it. Unfortunately for many this leads to an idolatrous relationship with the sport where they are looking to a hobby to fulfill their longing for meaning and significance rather than the only place it can be found; in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I am so thankful for how the Wilderness experience continually leads me to re-evaluate where my treasure lies. When I’m in a foreign country suspended hundreds of feet in the air on some remote mountainside, the Lord frequently uses the stillness and the lack of distraction to draw me close to Himself and snap my often blurry life sharply back into focus. What a joy it is to know that my treasure is not simply rooted in my circumstances or an experience but in a sovereign, eternal, all knowing God who lovingly holds my life in his hands.
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