We are walking through Lent: the time when we remember the temptations that Christ suffered, and seek in our own lives to change things, or start to do things we are neglecting. To make a fresh start. To clean out the cupboard. It is interesting that Lent coincides with spring – the time when we do our spring cleaning. And it is best when the cleaning not only affects our homes, but also our soul.
Chocolate and alcohol
I have not given up chocolate or alcohol; I like chocolate and alcohol. I like wine; Jesus liked wine – and I love those large Toblerone bars that you can sometimes get for a £1. Thankfully, I am just finishing off the death-by-chocolate presents from Christmas. I have not given up listening to rock music or the blues; I enjoy them, and I enjoy my vinyl.
I like to be positive at Lent and, instead of stopping, I like to start. Start to do some of the things that I have omitted, things that I miss, things that know I should do. One of these things is to regularly read my Bible once more, and the other is to walk over the Lake District mountains again. In the last few weeks I have discovered something. An analogy, perhaps. Not exactly an epiphany, but Lent, as I have discovered over the years, certainly manages to draw out many things in our lives that would otherwise remain dormant and neglected.
The wood behind the trees
I have read the Bible for a few years. I have walked the mountains of the Lake District for many more years – at least since I was 18. I thought I knew most of the mountains. As we spend time walking over the Wainwrights for Tearfund, I am discovering places that I never realised existed. I am appreciating the beauty of the Lake District in a new light. In my youth – during my rush to conquer all things high and dangerous – I passed by many of the smaller hills. Now I am finding that these little hills such as, High Rigg (the one we climbed last weekend), and Black Fell, (the one we did last month), are little gems, hidden behind the bigger fells. I am seeing the wood behind the trees.
Similarly, I have discovered, by setting myself to read the New Testament in these 40 days, that I am discovering passages in the Bible that I had previously passed over. I am experiencing a deeper relationship with God, and I am experiencing a deeper relationship with the mountains, because I am spending more time with both of them.
God and the Wainwrights
In a spiritual way I find the two activities embrace each other. That’s not surprising; after all, God did create the Lake District mountains. So why shouldn’t I be finding Him in the mountains, and finding the mountains in His word? Many others have discovered this creative presence – the presence of the creator – in the hills. Writers, artists, poets, photographers and many others have drawn great inspiration from the landscape. The danger is that we should be careful not to worship the created above the creator.
One of the Psalms says, “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? [No], my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” This year I am certainly looking up to the mountains, but not for their help. Yet I am certainly looking towards the Lord for His help to get up them; to write about them, to photograph them and to bless the children that we are walking them for. There are over 170 references to mountains in the Bible. They conclusively play a large part in God’s narrative, and they are certainly fantastic to wander over with lent-free bars of chocolate stuffed into my rucksack. It’s all about fun and enjoyment, both in God’s word and on the hill. Have a great, and enjoyable, walk over your next one, and don’t forget to take all those nice sweeties and things.