After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23 WEB)
If you stand on the highest peak of Guam you’re probably on the tallest mountain in the world. Granted, Guam doesn’t rise above Mount Everest until you go to the roots of the island at the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench. The trench reaches a depth of 36,000 feet. Mount Everest could be dropped into the Trench and still be over a mile below sea level. When you add the depth to the height, Guam is a pretty tall island.
Being afraid of heights, and therefore not an avid mountain climber, I wanted to feel I was standing on the top of the world. So, one rainy day, as a family, we headed to Mount Lamlam. We didn’t plan our trip to coincide with the rain but planning around the rain on Guam wasn’t easy. There are two season on Guam, wet and dry. So why not go in the dry season? You need to understand the actual difference between these seasons. It rains in the rainy season. It rains a lot in the rainy season, up to thirty inches a month. In the dry season it still rains, just not as much. Regardless of the season it rains just about everyday on Guam, at least for a few minutes.
Pressing forward with our plans, undaunted by the rain, we drove south into the mountainous region of the island. In contrast to the many quick showers which keep the humidity high, there was a long shower insuring everything was soaked, especially the dirt. Our friend Kevin joined the expedition. All the necessary equipment was in the car as we parked near the start of the trail. Water bottles, hats, . . . that’s about all that was needed.
Donning our hats and gathering the water bottles we headed up the trail toward the summit. The same trail is used each Easter season by the local church. Priests, faithful, and observers, trudge upward stopping to remember the walk of Jesus to the Cross. Our goal was not spiritual but mental. I wanted to say I climbed to the top of the highest mountain in the world!
With each upward step the rain continued to soak the ground and make our footing slippery. Ellice and Joel thought it was great to be out in the rain. Beth smiled, Kevin laughed, and I tried not to get water in the camera lens. Thirty minutes later we were at the top.
There, before our eyes stood three crosses. The largest was concrete and sported an official plaque of dedication. The others were wooden. These were brought up each year at Easter and planted at the top. Older crosses were removed to insure there was always room for one more. As we considered the imposing concrete cross; the sun made an appearance to liven up the day and dry off our soaked spirits, shoes, hats, clothes and lens cap.
I stood on the peak of the tallest mountain in the world and looked around. I looked east. I looked west. I looked south and I looked north. What did I see? Water! In every direction we could see beyond the boundaries of our little island to the vast ocean beyond. Until that moment I didn’t realize how “confining” Guam might appear to many people. It felt much smaller when I could see each line of the coast.
There I was, 1332 feet above sea level, and about 700 feet above the road where our car was parked. To the west was the Philippine Sea and Ceti Bay. To the north I could just make out the profile of Rota, an island smaller than Guam. To the east and south was water, the water of the Pacific Ocean.
After a few more minutes of enjoying the passing sunshine, and worrying about the children falling over the edge, we started our descent. We had conquered the mountain top. It was there, and we made it to the top.
Beth, Kevin, Ellice, and Joel began their trek down the trail and I lingered at the top for a few minutes. In that few moments alone on top of the mountain I could understand the desire of the Lord to meditate at such an altitude. Here above the world it was quiet. Here away from the noise of day it was easy to find peace and concentrate on God.
Rousing myself from my spiritual moment, I began the descent of the trail. I soon discovered there was no longer dirt on the trail but slippery, slimy, and slushy mud. The children were attempting to not slide or get too dirty. I watched for a moment before a stroke of genius came to mind. Some people might say I just suffered a small stroke.
With a smile on my face I sat down in the mud then lifted my shoes out of the mire and started sliding down the mountain on my backside. In no time Ellice, Joel, and even Kevin were enjoying this slimy mode of transportation provided by nature. When we reached the car we were laughing, muddy, and ready to head home. I think it took a week to get all the mud out of the car.
My mountain top experience was fun and revealing. Our home was bound by the physical space available above the surrounding waters. This limited our travel and our daily life. Our spiritual life contained no boundaries.
Guam provided a perfect location to reach the Far East with the Gospel message. From another mountain side, Mount Schroeder, programs reached into remote regions where lives were changed by God’s message of redemption. They were not limited by the island shoreline.
Sometimes it takes a trip to the top of the mountain to realize God’s work in our life and the limitless nature of the Spirit working within us. As we live in the valley let’s seek the mountain top vista and recognize the height, depth and breadth of God’s care in our life.