Keep On Climbing

What are you pursuing most earnestly in your life at the moment? The US Declaration of Independence enshrines the right to the pursuit of happiness, and I suspect this is what most of us think of as most important—or at least we live like that’s true.

The more worthy and joyful pursuit is to strive to know Jesus Christ more and more. While in prison, Paul writes that he is willing to lose everything if only he “may know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection…” (Philippians 3:10).

We will never know Jesus fully until he returns are we see him face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12). Until then, we must seek continually to draw closer to him. Charles Spurgeon compares this pursuit to climbing a mountain:

“When we first believe in Christ we see but little of him. The higher we climb the more we discover of his beauties. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes knowledge?”1

This mountain metaphor is helpful because it emphasises that knowing Christ will require toil. When the way is easy, we are probably walking along a plateau rather than climbing any higher. Suffering affords us a better view; the glimpse of a new vista.

Spurgeon references 2 Timothy 1:12, another one of Paul’s letters from prison:

“Paul, when grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a dungeon in Rome, could say with greater emphasis than we can, “I know whom I have believed,” for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of him to whom he had committed his soul.”

For many people, the gradual decline towards death is something to be feared. We delay it as long as possible. But from Spurgeon’s perspective, this is actually the well-trodden path to ultimate joy. Whatever good things we see and experience in this life, we only reach that magnificent summit at death.

So with all the energy God gives us today, let’s pursue knowledge of Jesus Christ. Strap on your hiking boots and heed Spurgeon’s advice: “Get thee up, dear friend, into the high mountain.”

How can we do this? In the passage Spurgeon quoted previously, Paul goes on to urge Timothy to know and preserve the gospel: “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 2:13–14)

Keep pressing into that blessed mystery of the gospel. You can know Jesus by reading the Scriptures and digging deeper into its jewels. Our knowledge becomes deeper with suffering, as it strips away the pride and self-sufficiency in our hearts so we can more clearly see the truth.

When I am weary of the climb, I find encouragement in this poem by Amy Carmichael and pray it to God:

Make us Thy mountaineers—
We would not linger on the lower slope.
Fill us afresh with hope, O God of Hope,
That undefeated we may climb the hill
As seeing Him who is invisible.

Let us die climbing. When this little while
Lies far behind us, and the last defile
Is all alight, and in that light we see
Our Leader and our Lord—what will it be?

Let the stern array
Of the forbidding be a constant call
To fling into the climb my will, my all.
Teach me to climb.2

  1. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, June 25, morning, available here: https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening/2018/06/25
  2. Amy Carmichael, The Last Defile/Teach Me to Climb, available here: https://enmissioned.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/the-last-defileteach-me-to-climb/

4 Comments

  1. Louise Morse December 20, 2023 at 4:49 am

    Hello Cassie: I’ve just discovered you and your website. I LOVE this post!

    If you Google my name, Louise Morse (UK), up comes information about me. I’m an author and speaker on issues of old age, and work for a 216 year old Christian charity, the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. It was founded in 1807 to support older people. Nowadays it does this with housing and care homes, but true to its founding mission still helps those in the community with talks and training in faith groups and churches on reaching and helping older people. That’s largely my role. See https://www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/resources/louise-morse

    I’ve published several books and am working on a new one, ‘Give Me This Mountain’. The aim is to encourage people in their middle years, 40 – 65 (and beyond, really,) to do an appraisal of themselves; a kind mid-life check-over to lay aside burdens that will weigh them down. (I’m also a cognitive behavioural therapist.) My premise is that our middle years are the platform for the rest of our lives. It’s important to be as well as we can be emotionally, physically and spiritually, because we lose strength as we grow older. (We need not lose spiritual strength but many people do.)

    I’d like to quote from this blog – do I have your permission?

    Warm regards,
    Louise

    Reply
    1. Cassie Watson January 13, 2024 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Louise! It’s so encouraging to hear about the ministry you’re doing. I’ve just taken a moment to pray for you, your ministry, and your book writing. You are most welcome to quote from this blog as you write. May God bless your labours.

      Reply
  2. Larry Patterson January 10, 2024 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you very much Cassie for this post! It is what I needed at just this time in my journey! Every bit of it is very well said! Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Cassie Watson January 13, 2024 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you Larry! I’m glad my words could be a blessing to you. Thank you for your encouragement.

      Reply

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