I love hiking above the tree line After a vigorous, winding climb up a mountain, along its descending creek beds and through canopied woods, changing with elevation, I come to the treasured tree line. A wondrous breakthrough is felt when the trail suddenly opens up on rock face near the summit. Here there is such freedom; away from all that is crazy and weighty, discouraging and limiting. Here, I am able to catch my breath and take it all in, valuing what has thus far has been achieved. Oh, sweet perspective!
Finally, being able to look out rather than up, while feeling fresh breezes cool my already sweat-soaked shirt, my perspective instantly changes. Below is the wooded valley with a snaking strip of roadway, broken by farm land and tiny patches of field. Beyond are other lower, unknown valleys and hazy mountains. But I am above it all.
The hiking trail continues above me toward the rock faced summit; its direction becomes no longer visible. Rather than marked by colored blazes on trees, it is marked by periodic piles of stacked stones — each, a Cairn. Rather than wandering aimlessly by instinct, by visually connecting these dots, I’m assured of the way to go and hike in it. My confidence is renewed.
Should fog or clouds suddenly roll in, occluding view of the summit, these helpful stones provide certain direction. Should snow pack cover the trail, these sentinels of stone insure the trail is not lost to me or me to it. Anyone hiking in such conditions is in need of such help AHEAD from a periodic Cairn to mark the way. No step is wasted.
There is another kind of standing stone that is a periodic help — Ebenezer. Occasionally we need to be reminded of what God has already done for us, BEHIND us, along the way. Such was the inspiration for the hymn: Come Thou Fount – Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come – Robert Robinson.
- 1 Samuel 7:12, such a stone was set up in commemoration of God’s help to the Israelites in their victory over the Philistines at Mizpah. Samuel wanted to commemorate Israel’s victory over the Philistines, pulled off ONLY by the Lord’s help! It was NOT them. Only God could have done it.
- Whenever they walked past it, they would remember just how God had protected them and led their people to victory.
- Ebenezer in Hebrew literally means Stone of help
It’s all about perspective! (Right?)
- What happens when we Lose perspective? (When YOU lose perspective?).
- We get Confused! Discouraged! Even Defeated & Depressed (I personally know!).
Our Focus Matters
- Where you look or focus your gaze, will impact the direction you will go
- LOSE that focus, that intentional gaze, and you go off course
- The need on any Life Journey or Way is to “stay the course” (“steady as you go”):
- To Persist, pursue, proceed, press on no matter what! vs.
- To Quit, cease what you’re doing, leave it, give up in spite of what God says
And, which is better in your Life? To press on or give up?
Sometimes we just need a pile of rocks to guide us so we won’t lose perspective:
- Looking ahead Cairn – a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark on the way to the summit of a mountain.
- Looking behind Ebenezer – a stone memorial of Divine Assistance/Deliverance; literally in Hebrew means Stone Of Help.
When it comes to Life-perspective, I’m not into reminiscing, but I am into reflecting. For me, to wistfully reminisce is to sentimentally look back on on Life and remember the “Good Old Days.” On the other hand, to willfully reflect is to remember days past (the good and the bad), and noting particular in-breaking events along the way, with the intention of realizing their significant influence on personal character in life as well as course through life. Such things are good to not forget and always remember!
What Are Helping Stones for me a Christian Disciple?
- Things in your Life/Journey/Way That you DON’T want to forget, such as:
- Points/places of Divine Deliverance.
- In-breaking Events “God-moments” that you KNOW God showed up!
- Significant Memories (positive, affirming, reassuring).
- Reminders when you were seriously assisted or unusually helped.
- Markers of noticeable growth/maturity, paradigm shifts – emotionally & spiritually.
“But, what if I’ve lost focus, how do I gain perspective ‘above the tree line’ again?”
- By redirecting your focus, your way of thinking:
- What things in your past, behind you, has God shown you in which to place your trust?
- What things in your future, ahead of you, has God promised you that are trustworthy?
Look for helping stones along your way to keep you steady on the Way!
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
Psalm 77:11 ESV
Comments by Ric Ochsner