I remember the first time I climbed a mountain. I was 15 years old. Growing up in Florida, the tallest thing I had climbed was a pile of sand. But, when I was 15, I spent my summer at a camp in Colorado called Uplift Mountain. My first week there, one of my new friends and I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Herring. It wasn’t the tallest mountain around, but it was an unforgettable experience.
The hike was long and tough. My legs were aching, and my lungs were gasping for oxygen in the thin air at 9,000 feet above sea level. We had to stop several times to catch our breath and quench our parched throats.
As we neared the peak, however, my excitement grew. I couldn’t wait to get to the top and look back to see how far I’d come. The sense of accomplishment was already building within me. I was so proud of myself.
But the moment I reached that peak, my plan of looking back disappeared. I completely forgot about what was behind me. I forgot about my aching legs and my overworked lungs. I forgot about measuring my accomplishment and feeling proud of myself.
All I could do was stare in awe at what lay on the other side of the mountain. It was the most amazing view I had ever seen. I would try to describe it to you, but there’s no way I could do it justice. I just sat and stared, blinking only when absolutely necessary.
Time flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to go back down. You might think that I would be disappointed, but I wasn’t. The fact is, I couldn’t wait to get back down. I wanted to tell everyone back at Camp what I had seen.
And I did.
That was just the first of what would become many trips up Mt. Herring for me. Now, almost 20 years later, I’ve had many mountain experiences, but none quite like that first one.
Here at South Mountain Christian Camp, we get the opportunity to see many people undergo a “mountain experience.” Sometimes this comes by physically climbing to the top of the mountain here, but even more often, it is a spiritual experience that comes from just being in God’s presence here on the Camp.
Just like my experience on Mt. Herring, these people forget about their problems and pain. They forget about their accomplishments and their pride. They forget all about what is behind them, and they just bask in the love of God. And when their time on the mountain is over, they don’t go home bitter or resentful. They go home excited to tell everyone there all about what they experienced on the mountain.