“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
For a day or two this week, the view of the North Shore mountains rising from the lower mainland and Fraser Valley has been magnificent. Their heights are flocked with the first snow of the year revealing breath-taking beauty. Vancouver’s ubiquitous autumn clouds have unexpectedly fled. The clear sky reveals what local skiers, boarders, and simple view-lovers appreciate: snow-covered mountains. I am reminded of another brilliant sun-bathed day in those same mountains. No snow blanketed the mighty champions that day.
Emerging from the shady trail, a dazzling reflection blinded us. Sun-bleached exposed granite replaced the dim browns and greens of our forest path. We saw small splotches of blue and sometimes yellow paint, like thoughtless graffiti, randomly littering the rocky face as we scanned to find a route to traverse it. Then it came to us. These splashes of pigment were our waypoints. Unlike forest floors, rock leaves no footstep-trodden evidence of safe passage, provides no sturdy tree trunks on which to post trail markers. Blue and yellow paint was our escort.
The peak of Crown Mountain lay somewhere above us, out of sight. Below rose the tops of Douglas and Cedar trees whose roots held onto earth somewhere in their unseen depths. Before us stretched this granite desert. This would be no place to fall.
Hand and foot we made our way across the rocky expanse. Paint splotch after colourful paint splotch guided us when the way seemed impossible. We entrusted ourselves to the route chosen for us by someone else. And so, little by little, we completed that daunting section of the trail. More forest trail, followed by more precipitous courses over and around blue and yellow be-dabbed granite led us further and further up. The path was always safe and true, but sometimes, the other option—the one that could lead to disaster—was only a misstep away.
We reached the top that day. (Some even scrambled to the precipitous jutting spur to lay claim to the very top). Breath-taking views stretched across mountaintops rimming the sky in every dizzying direction. Even there, maybe especially there, our safety was assured only as we stayed ourselves on the marked path. A thoughtless move and one might be silently swallowed by that magnificence.
Father God; These awe-inspiring mountains teach us of you. We walk each day in places we hope will bring us satisfaction or beauty, excitement or rest. Sometimes the going is pleasant and we journey somewhat mindlessly. Shady paths and leaf-softened forest floors easily mark our way. But other times we find ourselves on exposed rocky cliffs needing to grasp at granite where no handholds exist, where it seems the surface is too hot or too cold to touch. We fear we don’t know the way.
Then we see your splotches of blue and yellow paint—promises of Your love and faithfulness—directing us through difficulties. As we follow You, O Great and Loving Guide, we fear no evil for You are with us. Rock of Ages, draw our eyes to you. Steady us. Keep us from the dizziness of looking at the world around us for hope. Bring us safely home, gloriously spent, and aware only of your awe-inspiring faithful presence.