Imagine you are on a rugged mountain path that’s winding its way up, higher and higher. It is snowing, and the cold is stinging your eyes. For a moment you rest, holding on to a sturdy fir tree, but you realize it is not a place where you can wait for too long, as the temperatures have dropped so much that you can hardly feel your fingers. You have to go on, but it is a treacherous journey. You can barely see the road ahead, and the dark abyss is near. You have a map, but what good is a map in weather like this and the markings on the road have disappeared because of the snow. You just have to struggle on and hope your sense of direction won’t let you down.
What worries you the most is that this is only the beginning of the journey. The hardest part still has to come. What’s more, daylight is fading, and soon you’ll be surrounded by darkness.
But you are a man of courage. You are not a quitter; You want to go on. You have to reach the top. It’s what you always wanted. It’s what you live for. Still, you start to wonder if you have what it takes.
And then, just like that, you see a light flickering through some distant trees. A light? Here on the mountain? But as you trudge on, it turns out to be a cabin especially made for travelers like you.
Smoke is coming out of the chimney and the smell of roasted meat wafts through the air, and you realize it has been quite some time since you had a decent meal. There will be warm drinks and maybe even something a bit stronger to help you come to your senses.
As you approach, you hear laughter and the happy voices of some fellow travelers who have found shelter and have decided to spend the night in the safety of the warm cabin. You peer through the window and look. Several mountain men sit around the table with a plate of steaming hot food before them, and they exchange stories and experiences about their journeys.
A deep desire to enter the cabin and join the others wells up in your weary body. How wonderful to have a place of rest and to lay your head down in safety for the night.
You walk up to the door and grab the handle. But just as you are about to open the door and join the others in the warmth of the shelter you stop.
Stopping here would mean you lose your momentum. You had planned to reach the summit at a certain hour, and that won’t happen if you stop here and spend your time in idle conversation with others and you yield to the desires of the flesh.
Of course your body aches and of course, you are tired and cold, but stopping now means not reaching the goals you have set for yourself.
A hot meal? Sure it would be nice, but you’ve got plenty of crackers left in your rucksack. You walk back to the window and look again, and you scoff.
Look at these fellows. They are just a bunch of quitters. But you won’t quit. You are a mighty mountain man.
Those fellows near the fire just laugh and joke around in shallow fellowship. The goal is not on their minds at all. All they care about is ease and comfort, a bowl of hot soup and a feathery blanket over their sensitive bodies.
And suddenly you know what to do. You don’t need this cabin. You can trudge on. You’ve got what it takes.
There is a voice, be it ever so small, deep within your heart that tells you that you are about to make a mistake.
It’s getting dark, and the abyss is near. You may fall and break a leg, and then you will freeze to death.
But you do not listen.
That’s not the voice you like.
You cast one last look at the travelers inside, and you scoff. Then you turn around, and you trudge on. Soon you are out of sight as the darkness now has swallowed you up.
And that was the last anybody heard about you.
That seems like a strange story. Who would be so foolish as that man? Such a man is just stupid or irresponsible at best. We are quick to find all kinds of names for a mountain man with such an attitude.
And yet… it can happen to the best of us on a spiritual plane.
It can happen when we are facing challenges in our lives, be they big or small, and we are fully devoted to work our way through these difficulties to reach the top.
Has it ever happened that you are in the middle of a problem, and you just can’t seem to go on? It just gets too much. And yet, you do not want to stop. You have no time to stop. There are reasons you do not want to stop. Good, logical reasons that spur you on. You must go further and higher up the mountain.
And that’s when we too miss that cabin.
That cabin is always near when we need it most. Jesus made that cabin just for us. He is asking us to stop and take that break. He knows we are tired and are about to fall apart. He knows our frame that we are but dust and asks us to stop and get strengthened.
Isn’t He the Master? Doesn’t He know best what we should or shouldn’t do?
Of course, the mountain has to be conquered. Of course, the problems are real. Jesus knows that too. But He also knows that we need to deal with the challenges in His way, with His strength and His inspiration.
That’s why he places these cabins on our path. Places where we can partake of a hot dish of His word, and where we can enjoy the fellowship of our fellow travelers. A place where we can spend the night in the arms of Jesus…
But we do not always recognize the cabins on the road. There are days on which we prefer to walk on and get to the top in our own strength, and rely on our own wisdom and stay true to the goal we have set for ourselves.
Paul calls it the carnal nature. The natural man kicks in and drives us further. No time to stop now. No time for rest. Rest is annoying. After all, you’ve got enough word-scraps in your rucksack.
Do you really?
Jesus doesn’t place these cabins on the road because He knows you are deeply lazy and irresponsible, prone to comfort and ease. He places them on our road because He knows we need that rest. He knows we lack the strength. When we continue to travel the road in our own strength, we are bound to get lost eventually.
What’s more, when we lean so heavily on our own strength we will lose much of the blessings that Jesus intended for us.
We do not usually like problems. We hate it when another mountain arrives, and we have to start climbing again. And yet, nowhere are the sights as beautiful as on the mountain, where the most breathtaking scenes stretch out before us… if we see them.
We can only see the beauty in our problems when we take sufficient rest in the mountain cabins that Jesus will place on our path.
Take that time. Warm yourself at the fires of His presence and drink the hot soup of His comfort. Enjoy the fellowship of those who are walking a similar path and take a strengthening nap in His arms. The top won’t be so far, and you will easily reach it, and when you are back down in the valley again, you will be able to tell others about the glories of the mountain.