A few years ago, I carved out time to be with God in solitude and silence. I climbed up to a bluff that overlooks the Fraser Valley. It only takes about 20 minutes. But it’s not a light walk. It’s a steep climb marked with the usual suspects—a worn path, dirt, big rocks, and lots of green surrounding. And combined with Vancouver drizzle, it can be quite muddy.
On this particular day, it was raining. But I was determined to hike up to the bluff to the lookout over the valley. I had great expectations, thinking to myself, “Even if it’s raining there will be a view. I can enjoy being surrounded by creation. Maybe an eagle will fly over. Or God will turn the pages of my bible with the wind and it will land on exactly the spot he wants me to see!”
I had great and lofty expectations.
My legs carried me, my muscles working hard, my body sweat underneath the layers, with the warmth kept in by my rain jacket. I pushed myself up the spots where I would have rather taken a break. I stopped only for a breath once I got to the hardest part. I was spurred on by the beautiful view I knew awaited me.
I crossed over a small creek, some fallen trees, and ascended the tiny marked trial to the very top. But as I did, a sinking feeling of dread came over me. I noticed that a misty, thick cloud had descended on the mountain. I walked further, hoping the cloud would clear as I came out onto the bluff. It didn’t.
I arrived at the lookout only to be totally engulfed in cloud. No view. No amazing mystical moment of connection. Just thick, white cloud. I sat down defeated and extremely disappointed. “What was the point of that?”
I was frustrated. I breathed in the thick air and allowed the silence and still to surround me. And as I did I heard the Father’s tender voice remind me, “Sometimes in life you will climb mountains and you won’t get the view. But, though you cannot see it, it’s there.”
I wept that day as I sat in the cloud. Not knowing. Not seeing. Trying to figure out the point of hard work for no reward or pay. Wondering at suffering and pain with no point. But even in my unanswered questions, that still small reminder sat with me. Although I felt disappointed, frustrated, and even sad—I also had hope.
In my faith, I climb the mountain again and again only to find that each time I cannot see the view. I expect to find some absolution, respite, and relief. But I haven’t yet. Not all things are restored immediately on this earth. And we don’t know why. I sometimes wonder where God is and that is a hard place to sit in and have faith. But I am learning to listen to this tension—to the teachers of suffering and joy, hope and hope deferred. Because I cannot learn from one without learning from the other.
I heard something in a sermon a few weeks ago that resonated with my experience. Jesus’ life is one of downward mobility, ever moving toward humanness. And so, as Christians ours must be also, that he might resurrect us to new life. We make the journey towards our humanness, towards our suffering, towards our pain—and the mysterious is that Jesus brings life somehow.
I cannot put words onto your journey for you. But for me I have found that something happens in the tensions I face. I don’t have words to describe it other than hope appears. There are days when I eagerly wait for it, and days when I climb the mountain again and cry out to the unseen view, “Where are you?” And once again, I am resurrected, expectant, and I see a glimpse. Only to be challenged to make the trek again of downward mobility towards my humanness.
This is my new rhythm. Although it was not what I expected and hoped for. I am continually becoming human and as I make the journey of faith each day, I find Jesus there, broken with me and resurrected.