Climbing on Ashes

I finally figured out why my amazing friend, who seems to know me better than myself sometimes, would want to take me on a trip to climb Mt. St. Helens.  She is smarter than I; and in her wisdom, after passing many blog thoughts through her head as we ascended, she remained silent.  And, after writing about ten pages worth of blog notes in my journal on the plane ride home, I still wasn't sold on what the main point was.  There were many sub-points, but three days post-climb, I got it.

The T-shirt we saw (but neglected to purchase) in the "Lone Fir" registration shop sums it up "We Kicked Ash".

Ashes - that's what we were climbing on.

And, that's what God has taken me out of, and brought me on top of!

Ash, according to Wikipedia, refers to products that remain after fire or incineration or combustion.  When something or someone is burned or "blows its' top" (as in a volcano) there is almost always something left over from that.  And it is through or on top of that, that we climbed over and rose above.
She accompanied me on the climb, as Jesus has accompanied me every step of the way since my little life volcano.  Both, of which, have led me higher than I'd ever imagined I would go.

When we started the hike, before the tree line, it was easy.  Just a little winded from walking up hill, but the path was clear.  There were markers that were very easy to see, nice and blue, along our path, as long as we looked up every once in a while, it was confirmed that we were going the right way.  Post-combustion, God holds our hands as we hold His, and He gently leads us out from where we've landed.

Those great theologians, Lone Star, sang in their song, Mountains, "Walking's easy when the road is flat... the good Lord gave us mountains, so we can learn how to climb."

As we passed the tree line, it got harder, and our hike became a climb.  Climbing is different from hiking because it often requires the use of your hands to keep going up.  It is more arduous, but you get to go higher, too!  It is here that the pole markers were harder to spot.  Sometimes we would just keep going, not knowing if we were going the right way; yet very comforted when we finally saw a marker, confirming each step we had labored.

As we come to the tree line with God, we can choose to stay with Him, and go higher - or just take the easy way out and go back down, foregoing the view at the top.  If we stay with Him, closely obeying Him and following His markers for us, we can see some pretty cool stuff.  And we can rise above the nasty ashes left from our lives.  The markers, here, are harder to see, you have to search for them, as in this photo - and, sometimes, you don't see them at all.  But, as He has given me a hunger for scripture, He has been rewarding me with marking posts of peace, showing me that I'm climbing the right direction.

One thing I did not like to do during the climb was to look up.  It was frustrating because the goal looked so far away, and each step was hard.  I realize that every once in a while you had to, to make sure you were following the markers, but it was more palatable to just concentrate on the step I was on at the time.  In Steven Curtis Chapman's song, Beauty Will Rise, he says "It would take our breathe away to see the beauty that's displayed out of these ashes."  I think God was telling me here that He wants us to just cling to Him each day.  He doesn't want to show us where we will be in twenty years because we won't believe it - it will seem unreachable.

But when we get there, after following those markers and persevering, we can rise above the ashes!  We can see His Glory!  And, we can move on to climb something higher.