Mountain Climbing 101

Over the years I’ve encouraged thousands of people with the strong Truth from God’s Word—in person, in my writing and speaking, through social media, text messages, cards, and face to face. Just last week, I shared Habakkuk 3:19 with a dear friend of mine who the day after, would undergo a very risky brain surgery. (She came through the brain surgery exceeding expectations and now her journey continues through healing and recovery.)

I have found great comfort in that verse for many years. I also love the story, Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, an allegory based on the Scriptures from the prophet Habakkuk, chapter 3:19,

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. (NKJV)

hind is a deer or gazelle—a sure-footed animal that travails the high rocky parts of mountains. Hannah’s story tells of a character called Much-Afraid who grew up in her Fearing family where she learned to live a life of fear. One day Much-Afraid meets the Good Shepherd and she lets him lead her up to the High Places where “perfect love casts out fear.” There He changes her heart forever and she learns to live a life of love belonging to Him, trusting Him, and being loved by Him.

I was already a believer when I read this story, and I was in a desperate, low valley—tossing and turning in a bed of self-inflicted hurt I’d made myself. If I didn’t know better, I’d tell you that God Himself—in a loving gesture—grabbed that book off my shelf and threw it at me in the middle of the night. It was literally that jolting. Through a wall of tears, I read it to the end, into the wee hours of the morning, where I ended up face down on the floor… gasping for the breath of God to breathe on me fresh and fill me up in all the broken and empty places in my life. This would not be my first trip down to the hardwood floors; it seems that is God’s location of choice for me…where He gets my undivided attention. Perhaps hard heads respond best to hard floors. 

Reading Hannah Hurnard’s beautiful interpretation of Habakkuk 3:19 that night took me to a whole other level with Jesus…learning how to follow him to the High Places and back down to the Valley below. It would be almost 25 years later that the Lord would reintroduce me to that verse in a different translation from the Amplified Bible that impacted me more deeply:

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery,
and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet
and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk]
and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”

For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments (and much loud singing).”
(Habakkuk 3:19 AMPC)

I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and while I was in a good, solid place—spiritually strong in my faith, secure in the love and care of Christ—I was scared. Through this verse, the Lord sweetly gave me courage for the journey ahead. Cancer was a place I’d never gone before, and the high road ahead of me was daunting. I could almost hear my Shepherd’s voice saying, “It’s ok, I’ve got you. I’m with you. I’m ahead of you, beside you, and all around you on this climb. I know you’re scared, but do it scared…with me.” And up to the hard, High Places of cancer I went, with Jesus as my strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army…Indeed, He made me to walk– not stand still in terror, but to walk and to make spiritual progress upon my high places. 

How can you be spiritually strong and scared?

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that life is full of scary, hard stuff. Anyone who tells you that you just need “more faith” to not be afraid of whatever, has most likely never been threatened with whatever. I’m here to tell you that there’s plenty of whatever out there that can scare the h-e-double-toothpicks out of even the most faithfully strong. Even if you’re not afraid of heights, the hard high places of life can make you much-afraid.

3 Things You Need to go to The High Places

1. A Trustworthy Guide

Like mountain climbing, trekking up to hard high places is not for the faint of heart, nor should we go it solo. Even the most experienced mountain climbers will hire guides when attempting new terrain. The same is true for us—when we’re climbing up the steep, jagged, slippery-rock paths of the hard high places in life we need Help if we’re going to make it up and back.

We need a strong, steady guide, who knows the path we’re taking and is experienced in the high places—having traversed the path many times. Someone who is 100% faithful, 100% reliable, 100% of the time. Not just someone to hold onto, but someone who is holding onto you. That Someone is Jesus, our Good Shepherd who leads us and will never leave us or forsake us.

2. The Right Shoes

You’ve gotta have the right kind of shoes or boots for the climb; ones with a good tread on them to keep you sure-footed on those high places. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us the kind of shoes to wear for armor in the spiritual battles of life, “…to stand firm with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Those are the same shoes we need to climb the hard high roads of trouble, suffering, and responsibility – with thick soles made of the reliable tread of the Good News of the Gospel of peace.

It’s God’s Truth that enables us to stand with firm-footed stability and move with promptness and readiness on the hard high places. Letting the Words of Christ abide in us and dwell in use richly (John 5:17; Colossians 3:16) is what makes our feet properly fitted for the climb.

3. A Hiking Buddy 

And for sure, we need a hiking buddy—someone to walk beside us, listen to us, encourage us, and dig a hole through a roof and bring us to Jesus in prayer when we don’t have the strength to pray ourselves (see Mark 2:3-5). It’s amazing who God brings alongside to walk with us in hard times…and sometimes it’s who we’d least expect.

Once we’ve travailed the high places, we can also become the buddy for someone else. You, too, can encourage mountain climbers with God’s Truth, pointing them to the true Guide, Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Add your faith-full prayers and you’ve got the best and strongest gift you can give to someone in a climb.

❤️ Something to Think About

What’s making you much afraid of things in life right now? Are you overwhelmed in some hard high places? Is it a life-threatening illness or a relationship-threatening situation? Have you been in a season of suffering personally, or with a loved one? Have your responsibilities increased while your finances or energy have decreased?

Are you making the climb with Jesus… or trying to go it alone?

Remember the 3 must-haves for high places: 

YOUR GUIDE: Talk it through and walk it through with Jesus. Tell him your heart is quivering, ask for his help, trust him, and believe his Word. Believing who God is and what God says is what will make you sure-footed in the hard places.

YOUR SHOES: What scriptures have you resoled your shoes of faith with? How has that given you strength, courage, endurance and perseverance?

YOUR HIKING BUDDY: Who is the person you can reach out to that will sit in the front row of your balcony and cheer you on; that will keep breathing God’s Truth to you and help you keep your focus… or will be “all ears” when you need to cry about how hard the climb is?

One More Thing

God’s love holds us—even when we are afraid. God was tender to His people when He said, “Fear not.” Jesus didn’t scold, but reassured his disciples when he said, “Fear not.” Fear not, is the good word God speaks to remind us that He is with us (Emmanuel) and will show us the way through—that with Him, there is nothing to fear.

It’s a word of comfort, of peace, of security, of confidence, and of deep abiding love from the only One who can do anything about everything that concerns us. The One who was and is and is to come, who has seen the end from the beginning. The One who is never caught by surprise, or left shaking His head over what to do about your circumstances. The One who has seen it all, has already seen to it all, and will see you and me through it all. The One who loves you with an unfailing love…that One… the One and Only, has got you in His ever-loving grip and is not letting you go to be all alone and frightened out of your mind. No, he is before all things and holds everything together—including us (Colossians 1:17).

Jesus knows how scary and hard it is to be us on this planet, and he is loving you all the way up and back and through the hard high places. Now and always, you are Held in the Love of Christ.

Follow Jesus and he will show you the beauty in the ordinary of every day. And for those who are journeying along the hard high places… oh, my… the beauty is spectacular from up there! Open your eyes and don’t be afraid to look—because he’s got you!!

Until next week, don’t forget that you are greatly and dearly loved by The King. And let’s live our beautiful, ordinary lives like it!

I love you!
xo – P❤️

P.S. If you’ve never read Hind’s Feet on High Places, click here to read it online for free, or you can purchase the illustrated edition or the regular copy online.