While serving as a missionary in the Missouri St. Louis Mission, my mission president held the mission motto based on Joshua 14:12 where Joshua declares in his old age, “therefore give me this mountain.” This piece is rich in meaning and representation. Much of what we tackle in life is standing before us as a great mountain to climb. In the mission field I learned to accomplish many hard things and arise at the top of a multitude of emotional and spiritual summits.
Since serving those two years I have experienced many more of these challenging mountains. I have also learned to find additional meaning to what Joshua illustrated for us. Mountains, and the ascent thereof, can represent so much to us spiritually and temporally.
The Joys of Experiences
This morning I watched the following video from Dan Heath.
In this video I love the relation to peak experiences and our memories. As I look back in my life I can see how these indeed correlate. But even to a greater degree I see the rich symbolism to ascending great peaks literally. I love to climb mountains. Every year I work to get myself atop of several high summits here in the Wasatch and the Uintahs, as well as wherever I travel. These moments are wonderful experiences for me. Back in 2013 I summitted over 20 peaks above 10,000 feet in elevation. This was a wonderful accomplishment for me.
What I learn as I reflect back upon this experience is that I remember the summits, the beautiful trails, the joy of accomplishment. I don’t think about the work, the pain, and the travail that came from long vertical ascents. I literally proclaimed, “Give me this mountain.” I am forever grateful that I took on this goal and learned how to do harder things. These were sacred moments for me. I learned more about myself and what I could accomplish.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” — Edmund Hillary
These moments in the mountains continually reiterate to me the power of building peaks in our lives.
Along the lines of building peaks, as a family, we have found a love for adventure. We work to create wonderful memories. Every year since 2012 we have worn out our National Parks passes by traveling to various National Parks and monuments throughout the country. We have experienced some wonderful road trips together. We have focused on building peaks as a family. Among these trips was one trip that we hope to remember forever. Back in 2015 we traveled through 17 different states seeing various parks, sites, and monuments. There were many peaks that we created together as a family. We will cherish these wondrous memories.
The Lessons of Accomplishment
As we see in the paragraphs before, these memories are created from accomplishing hard things. As we take on tasks just as Joshua, looking at what is ahead of us and seize the opportunity to climb to the top of the high mountains, then will we find out who we truly can become.
Our Savior puts these mountains in our pathway to allow us the opportunity to excel and push ourselves beyond what we once thought was capable. I have learned this lesson over and over in my life. I have seen it manifest itself both physically and spiritually. During my experiences of 2013 I was able to push my body beyond what I thought I could initially do. Yes, I had set the goal and believed that I could fulfill it. However, I was not exactly sure if I was truly capable. Since then I have not only summitted many high mountains but I have also accomplished other great physical endeavors. I have run multiple 50km races and a 50 mile event in a single day. These were events that 10 years ago I never would’ve imagined I could’ve accomplished. But taking the mantra of “give me this mountain” I have been able to accomplish hard things and reach new plateaus.
This, is one of the great lessons that I’ve learned from seizing mountains that come before me. I know now that I can do things that might have previously seemed impossible.
The Mountain of The Lord’s House
The final great lesson of mountains has been taught many times throughout scripture but summed up by Isaiah when he taught,
“the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills” — (Isaiah 2:2)
The mountain of the Lord’s House is most literally a place where man can go to commune with God. We often call this place a temple from the origin of templum as a guiding place. It is upon the high mountains that many of the ancients went to commune with the Great Jehovah.
It was on the mountain that Abraham pitched his tent and built an altar to the Lord. (see Abr 2:20; Also Gen 12:7-8) Here, Abraham was taught from on high and prepared for the great visions of eternal posterity, the premortal existence, the plan of God, the creation, and the Fall.
It too, was upon the Mount Moriah that Abraham took his son to offer up as a sacrifice unto God, but was provided another way and reaffirmed of the covenant from the Lord of his great posterity. (see Gen 22:1-9) .
Moses, “while he kept the flock of Jethro”, went up into the mountain. (Ex 3:1). It was there where he communed with God. Upon this mount, Moses beheld the glory of Jehovah and was able to witness His power. Here he came to truly understand his relationship to the universe and the Great Creator. Here, he was told that “the place wheron thou standest is holy ground”. (Ex 3:5) Truly, these peaks are sacred. The vision that then unfolded to Moses was one of the great visions ever recorded. Because of the Pearl of Great Price we have a better glimpse at the magnificence of this vision. Similar to that of Abraham, he saw the creation and the fall, gained insight of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the great Plan of God. (see Moses 1-6) It was up on this mountain top that God lead Moses to come to commune and receive further light and knowledge.
Elijah in his time of need escaped to Horeb to find peace in the mountain. It is there that he hears the still small voice of God. He was strengthened on his mountain. (See 1 Kings 19)
Jesus often escaped into mountains during His ministry in mortality. On one of these occasions He took Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain to commune with God. There they heard the voice of God, witnessed Christ transfigured, and were visited by Moses and Elias. They were so edified that Peter proclaimed, “Master, It is good for us to be here” (Mark 9:5; see vs 1-13 and Matt 17:1-13).
In the Book of Mormon record we see several times when Nephi was taken to an exceedingly high mountain to be taught by God and strengthened. It was upon these mountains that he experienced the mysteries of Godliness and beheld the condescension of God. Another great example of learning in the Book of Mormon was the Brother of Jared being taught in the mountain where he saw God face to face and saw much of what was revealed to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Nephi.
Rich blessings come in the temple. They also come as we seek to climb the mountains that stand before us.
Today, the wood mountain pieces that I received several years ago from my mission president still lie before me on my home desk where most of my study is done. These stand as a replica and reminder of the mountains conquered and what I can learn as I approach mountains with a passion and willingness like that of Joshua. Give me this mountain!