While on a family vacation in Italy, the Lord spoke to me about trials. In Naples, we decided to visit Pompeii. Pompeii is another story for another day. However, at Pompeii, we wrestled with going to Mt. Vesuvius. We couldn’t decide if we wanted to spend the money to visit a crater in the sky. It was hot, and we were tried from spending three days in Rome.
Mt. Vesuvius is a volcano that erupted in 79 A.D. and destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. However, the consensus was that since we are here, why not? As we drove up the windy road, I sat in the large bus and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get to the base of the mountain, a journey in itself. We went around curve after curve with a honk of the horn each time to give a warning that we are on the road. Only one vehicle could pass along this narrow road up to the mountain. (It is amazing how our struggles parallel the ride up the mountain. In a trial, we feel alone, and we try to avoid the traffic that may be around each curve, as we reach the destination the Lord has carved out for us).
When we arrived at the base of the mountain, we got out and looked up to our objective. I thought to myself, “This is going to be an expedition.” Then I thought to myself, “Surely, I can make it, I walk two to three miles a day.” As I started up the mountain, I went full force, but before I knew it, I was stopping and panting for breath. I really questioned why we decided to do this. However, I continue to walk the path. About half way up the mountain, I had to stop for a moment and take another breather. Then I started to question, “what’s the big deal, I don’t think I will miss anything if I don’t make it all the way. I cannot believe I am paying for this.” There was something in me that made me persevere. So I continue on my journey and came across a store about ¾ the way up the mountain. I stopped and bought a water to drink. I sent my family onward, and I sat there looking over the city of Naples, and I began to pray. Then I pulled out my Bible, and I began to read. Each word on the page gave me strength.
I sat there about 15 minutes resting in the Lord. I was refreshed. I decided that I could go further. I began to walk with a skip in my step. I reached the top to find my family there to greet me. I was on the mountaintop, and I didn’t want to leave. The view was even more spectacular from the top than from where I was before. I looked upon the Tyrrhenian Sea and watched the large ships come and go. Then I could see that the wild flowers I had smelled on the way were growing up the side of the volcano. What a sweet fragrance to behold, and a wonderful reminder that the sweetness of the Lord is ever present, even on the way up.
On the top of the mountain, the air was cool and refreshing. I was renewed, and it was there I realized, I was meant to be on this mountaintop. Yes, it was a struggle to reach the crest, and if I hadn’t gone the whole way, I would have missed the beauty, grandeur, and satisfaction that I made it to the summit. However, I knew my time was limited, for I had to go down soon to meet our bus. This told me that our adventures on this earth are not to last forever. They are only temporary as we walk this life through. However, the way down the mountain was so much easier. I knew I had overcome my struggle through Christ.
My family, who vacillated with wanting to go, said to me later that day, “This was one of my favorite sites we have been to so far.” We also would have missed a wonderful view of Naples because we were weary and didn’t sense that God had so much more for us to experience.
The moral of the story is that I know I someday I will go to the mountaintop for good, and I pray that many of my family members will meet be there to greet me as well. Our struggles in this lifetime will seem like a wisp of a vapor when we reach eternity. In the meantime, the same God who helped me walk up Mt. Vesuvius will walk me up the next mountain I face. I told you all this to remind you that when we are between our mountaintops God presence can be found even on our way up, and yes, that euphoric feeling ones receives on the mountaintop is always worth the struggle getting there.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
1 Peter 1:6 (NASB95)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials