Growing up in Utah, I have spent a lot of time living up, down, in, on and around mountains. My family and I have made our home on the side of a beautiful mountain overlooking a valley with the Great Salt Lake in the distance. The disadvantage of living on a mountain is the extra effort it takes to climb it – especially in bad weather, and the extra snow removal required at a higher elevation during the winter. But, the advantage of living on a mountain is enjoying the beautiful view, and an elevated perspective.
Mountains Provide Metaphors
After Moses led Israel out of bondage from Egypt, he sent twelve men on a mission to search out the promised land and bring a report about the living conditions there.
After forty days, the twelve men returned, bearing baskets of figs and pomegranates and a cluster of grapes so large it took two men to carry it between them on a pole! These tasty delights offered delicious proof that the land of Caanan was beautiful and “flowing with milk and honey”.
But, despite the magnificent produce and glowing tales of the bounty of the land, ten of these men proceeded to give a very negative and discouraging report. They described frightening scenes of fortified cities and “giants in the land”. They declared that if the Israelites tried to take possession of the land they would all be killed!
The remaining two, named Caleb and Joshua, gave a very different report. They spoke with faith and courage, reminding the people of how God had already worked so many mighty miracles for them, so certainly He would help them take the land as He promised.
“Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
— Numbers, 13:30
And Joshua declared “Rebel not against the Lord…The Lord is with us…fear not!” (Numbers 14:8-9)
In response, the crowd let fear and doubt consume them. They resorted to mob violence and even tried to kill Joshua and Caleb. Because of this rebellion, God did not allow them to go enjoy the beauty and fruit of the Promised Land. He cursed them to wander 40 years in the wilderness until a second generation would replace all of them.
Imagine how Jacob and Caleb felt!
Here they had stood up for the truth. They had defended God. They had done everything right – but, now they were being forced to suffer the same punishment with the Israelites, wandering in the desert eating manna when they could have been eating figs and grapes! How unfair was that!
From Caleb’s example we learn very important lessons. Just as Caleb had to struggle and remain true and faithful to gain his inheritance, so we must remember that, while the Lord has promised us a place in his kingdom, we must ever strive constantly and faithfully so as to be worthy to receive the reward. – Spencer W. Kimball
After 40 years, an entirely new generation of Israelites had replaced the rebellious group, with two exceptions: Caleb and Joshua were allowed to live to return to the Promised Land. Caleb was now 85 years old, but he was still a feisty guy who had remained firm in his faith. He eagerly declared;
“I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, … both to go out, and to come in” (Josh. 14:7–8, 10–11).
“…Give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12).
The more I live, the more I realize that Life really presents us with just two choices;
FEAR or FAITH.
We can live in fear of the mountains that suddenly appear in front of us; always complaining, looking for shortcuts or a way around, procrastinating, or outright refusing to climb.
We can live with Faith and courageously move forward up the mountainside no matter how steep or scary it feels. Instead of focusing on the pain we start to feel in our legs and the heavy burden the climb places on our back, we choose to look around at the new view it’s providing. We can give thanks for the new strength we are gaining and the new skills we are learning as we struggle upward, and like Caleb we can courageously shout
“[BRING IT ON!] GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN!”
Daughter A is our family’s Caleb. She continues to climb her health crises mountain, and we continue to climb and learn with her. She has always been so filled with faith. She doesn’t deserve having to climb this cruel mountain, and yet her faith never falters. She still has to rely on the walker, and can only travel short distances without getting tired. She still needs help with bathing and dressing. Stairs are a challenge. Loud or crowded places can bring on headaches and tremors. From time to time we all rage against the painful and jagged path on this mountain. It is a slow climb. Some days we don’t feel like any progress is happening. Some days feel like she’s sliding back down the hill! But, she keeps getting up each day, lacing on her determined “boots”, and we all keep moving forward as a family. When someone you love has to climb a mountain, it becomes your mountain, too.
I’ve pondered why things feel a little easier lately. Nothing has changed externally. I realize that the burden is not lighter, but our backs are growing stronger.
We cannot change our mountain, but it is changing and strengthening us.
What are your mountains right now? How is your climb going? Are you choosing to travel with Fear, or Faith?