I write a lot here about mountains. I don't really know where that comes from. I've spent the majority of my life on the Texas plains. But somehow I've come to associate the mountains with adventure, and every time I see a mountain, or talk about one, I feel a little melancholia for the adventure world I crave. I think it comes from my main man Tolkien. Mountains figure prominently in his beautiful trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Some of his most beautiful cities are nestled in the heart of the mountain ranges. Entire civilizations are built into and under mountains. There's a place in the first movie from the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, where Bilbo, about to leave the Shire for good, tells Gandalf that he longs to see mountains again -- "Mountains, Gandalf!" The young hobbits have never seen anything like the mountains. They know only rolling hills and rich farmland, so when they leave the Shire and encounter the wild crags, they are spellbound. They cannot fathom what they are witnessing.
For Tolkien, mountains represent the grand and the great. They seem to signify something other, something bigger than his characters, something bigger than their own lives. Our hobbits are caught up in a story that is bigger than them, and when they see the mountains, they know it.
I long to experience something bigger than myself l. I crave it on a deep, soulful level. I deeply desire mountains to climb, where I can feel the cold wind on my face, whipping my hair across my eyes. Sometimes I want this in all its physical forms: the rock under my feet, a chill blast around my shoulders. Maybe then, I feel, I will encounter something bigger than myself. Then I will know that I am caught up in a greater story.
I think that's what we're all longing for, really: a greater story.
The good news? We're experiencing it right now.
I've said it before: Adventures don't always feel like adventures when you're in them. Sometimes they feel so ordinary you could die. Sometimes they feel like your everyday work. But that doesn't mean you aren't caught up in the greater story. It just means you can't sense that right now.
I was having a sweet conversation with a sweet friend the other day, and she reminded me that following Jesus is an adventure. She's right. This journey I'm on with Him is ridiculous. It's hard. It's wearying. It's dangerous -- sometimes He asks me to walk into fear and peril. But that doesn't mean He isn't with me.
This adventure is also gorgeous. It's blue and gold and vibrant and more than I could ever have dreamed. It's better than any adventure I could dream up for myself. I just forget about it sometimes.
I want to remember that I'm in the middle of the best adventure story I could ever dream. I get to live it out on a daily basis. I'm wrapped up in it. And it's far bigger than I am. It's more than my life. It's a grand epic that my Creator is shaping, moment by moment, and I get to be a part of the quest.
May we remember that we are adventurers caught up in something bigger than ourselves.
May we remember that we are small -- but it doesn't mean we don't matter.
May we remember that we have been made to be adventurous -- that we've been given all the necessary tools -- and may we look up and around and see the mountains above our heads. May they remind us of the grandness of the epic He's writing.