Like usual, many thoughts have flitted through my head over the last few hours. The living stream of water has a tendency to do that to me. Posts on FB tend to do that as well. Conversations with friends and family rank right up there.  I think I see a patern emerging. Flittering thoughts are like butterflies – roaming from one flower – to a tree branch – to the dirt in front of me where I touch its black and blue wing with wonder.

One of those thoughts stuck with me all day. It was an image more than a thought of words. The image of the three crosses on a hill. The crowd thinning out as the sky darkened. Weeping, huddling stragglers all that remain. A thief on one side. A murder on the other. A man with a crown of thorns in the middle.

I’m not sure why this image has been in my head all day. The clarity of it – the starkness – the hauntingly, lonely sound of weeping. I wonder again. Would I have wandered away with the masses? Disappointed that the One in the middle did not provide more of a show like He had just a few days ago when He came to Jerusalem? Would I have laughed and derided Him like my contemporaries? Would I have laughed and cast lots for his meager, bloodied mantle? Would I have fallen to my knees like His mother in pain and sorrow?

At different points in my life, I could have answered any of those questions with a resounding, affirmative answer. Denied. Ridiculed. Hated. Loved. Wept.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you whenever they revile you and persecute you and they say every evil word against you for My sake, in falsehood. Then rejoice and triumph, because your reward is great in Heaven, for just so they persecuted The Prophets who were before you.”~Matt 5:10-12 [ABPE]

He knew. Even as He spoke the words to the crowd, He knew. He outlined the whole thing in His Beatitudes. Faith is a mountain of attitude. Blessed are those who figure it out for they become HUMBLE at the bottom of the mountain of faith. Surrender. Face the ugliness of personal sins. Crawl on hands and knees to the base of the mountain ahead humble. It is then I see Him. The Man in the middle walks down the mountain and reaches out His callused hand that has a name carved in its palm.

Mine. My name. My sins.

MOURN-ing, crying, remembering, He comforts and leads my faltering steps up the mountain. MEEK-ly, I follow. Stumbling here or there, but the earth feels more sturdy under my feet. Wishing I knew the way. Wishing I had a map. Instead, I trust this Shepherd who walks where mountain goats fear to tread.His RIGHTEOUSNESS becomes my constant companion, and contentment fills my soul.

Looking down the other side of the mountain, I still wish I had a map. The first few steps are more confident. MERCY seems an easier step. Contented, full, I view the step where He stands.  It looks easy, but praying for enemies and old hurts are never easy in reality. The deceptive step shows me how hard MERCY remains for me.  His hand reaches again, and I feel the MERCY in His touch – see it in His eyes.  Forgiven, I step down.

Aching. Weary. But strangely – eager.  Eager to see God.  Eager to be His child once more. I can see the places where the stone has been cut just large enough to hold my feet. PURE IN HEART and PEACEMAKER footholds waiting. Yet, the Shepherd has given me some practice at both of them, so I have a little more confidence. I’m just a little leary of that last attitude, and yet – even so – I know the Shepherd will guide me forward and through it as well – – – in His timing with His grace.

Climbing a mountain is formidable without a guide. Scraped knees. Calloused hands. Sliding back down when a foot slips or a hand-hold breaks way. My Shepherd guides me through the hardest places as I climb down the other side. The difference is the faith that cushions every step I take. The peace that passeth all understanding. The freedom to choose purity of heart. The absolute freedom of freedom of Love and Faith. The freedom to climb a mountain of attitude and smile even in my frailty. [google images]


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