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This well known, and oft quoted, phrase among people who love the outdoors was originally penned by conservationist and outdoor enthusiast John Muir in the early 1900s:

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

2014-08-05 13.17.31Whether he knew it or not, the mountains of the wild places of the world have but one voice that continually proclaims the goodness and majesty of their Creator. They can do nothing but stand upright, singing to the heavens of the glory of Him who spoke their existence in to being. What Muir may or may not have known is that God has been using His mountains for thousands of years as places of spiritual rest, renewal, challenge, sacrifice, and calling both inside and outside of the Biblical examples we all know.

So when a man feels that the mountains are calling to him, he would be wise to look beyond the hills, to their Creator, for the voice they so painfully seek.

On Sunday, August 3, I set out with six of our college student leaders from Cornerstone for the Sistersarea of central Oregon. The plan was for all 7 of us to complete a 36 mile, 3.5 day loop through volcanic region known by locals as the 3 Sisters (they are in fact a chain of three distinct, dormant, volcanoes that shoot out of the forest beneath them in incredible fashion). Thankfully, and by the grace of God, we all completed the trek.

At the beginning of our hike, I reminded the men of all of the stories throughout scripture of the Lord using mountains in peoples’ lives – Abraham, Moses, Peter, James and John, Jesus upon Calvary – and then challenged all of us to ask a few simple questions of Him:

“What would you say to me on this mountain Lord?”

“What should I leave as my sacrifice on this mountain?”

IMG_3025It is true that going in to the mountains for fellowship’s sake would be a worthwhile trip; however, our band of brothers had travelled cross-country for a different purpose. Had we ventured such a great distance for a few good laughs or a few stories that we would remember for a season? Or had the Lord led us the Oregon mountains for a higher purpose? I am convinced of the latter. While the stories of God’s setting some free from pain, hurt, and chains and speaking clearly, “son, whom I love” to others are just beginning to be shared, the significance of our time together there is far greater than the sum of the miles, days, blisters, and total elevation climbed.

This was truly a spiritual pilgrimage for us all that will echo in our hearts for eternity…and for that I am grateful to our God in heaven.

IMG_3018As leaders of our college ministry at Cornerstone and volunteers in various other areas, I greatly anticipate the fruit of our journey to play out in each one’s ministry during this next academic year.

I am incredibly thankful for our journey together, but I am eternally grateful for the changed lives of each man, each with hearts beating stronger for His glory, with whom I was privileged to take a hike with in central Oregon.

I am thankful for the one who draws our eyes beyond the hills.

Lee Cadden
College Pastor