Originally written on January 2007 and migrated here.
There are moments in life where I felt like my spiritual maturity would never be able to go further than it is already. Everytime I took a step forward, I took another five steps backward. It feels like the struggle to reach spiritual maturity is a trivial one. You go very slowly up the mountain, and yet one small slip on the way up would send you tumbling back again to ground zero. When you think of reaching spiritual maturity as a journey to go towards the peak of a mountain, you feel like the road is so slippery that you would never ever be able to reach the top. In this moment in life, when I needed just another truth to move my life back on the track again, God provided me with an allusion that helped me understood it all.
Take this spiritual journey as going up the mountain road by a car. If you drove manual, you’ll understand this truth better. When you go with your car up a mountain, do you go by the first gear or you go by the final gear? Of course, you’ll use the first gear (even the strongest car with the most experienced driver out there won’t dare climb a mountain on full speed with the final gear, no matter what those mountain drift movies told us). The first gear, while slow, gives you the most power (torque) out of your car. It gives you stability. No matter how slow it may be, you’re sure that at the end of the day, you’ll eventually reach the top. Even though at times your engine won’t be strong enough to take it all in one stride and you need to take stops to cool down and rest the engine along the way, you know, you will still get to the top this way.
There’s a spiritual lesson to be learned from this. Most of the time, we want to go towards that maturity peak as soon as possible, as fast as we can. Well, just like a car speeding towards the mountain peak can fall towards the bottom of the ravine, going too fast at your own set pace can send you towards the bottom of the pit. Learn to follow God’s pace, not yours. It may be a seemingly slow-paced journey up the mountain, but with God, who knows the mountain road best and knows the best pace for you to tackle it on, you’re sure to reach the top one day. It may be a hard journey with a lot of breakdowns, tears and agony – God understands it.
At times where you can’t take it anymore, He will give you rest. He will ask you to hand your burden to Him and He will carry you through it all. There may be some rests and “pit-stops” that you will need along the way – moments when you’ll need to get closer to God and understand His Word and purpose for your life, moments that will cool down any tension and stress you might have in your life and “refuel your tank” for the next trip up the mountain. Don’t push it all the way at once. As a car’s engine might overheat and break down from the pressure, you too can experience mental, spiritual and emotional breakdowns from your life’s pressure. Know when to stop and take a rest, taking a leave from your day-to-day trivialities to spend time with God, asking Him to heal you, refresh you, revitalize and reinvigorate you and provide you with strength for the coming day.
The next lesson we can learn comes from the question, “How do you get a car to go backwards when going up a mountain?”. Simple, you don’t even need to put the car into reverse or even neutral for that to happen. Just do nothing. The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. You don’t need an effort to backslide. Just do nothing – no prayers, no devotional times, no studying God’s word, nothing. Sometimes we may think that by doing nothing, we won’t be going up but we won’t be going down either. This is a very wrong and dangerous principle. Satan keeps trying to pull us down every moment in our lives, that’s why, like the way gravity pulls down your car in a mountain road, during the uphill battle of spiritual maturity, doing nothing will make you backslide, because there is a force out there that is pulling you down.
It is far easier for us to go down than to go up, far easier to backslide than to grow to maturity. But with God in our side, we will be abled to reach that goal He has set for us. Even though sometimes we may feel we’re going at the first gear, know that we’re making progress. And just as there’s no man crazy enough not to do anything when his car starts to go backwards in a mountain, we must do the same with our spiritual lives. When you feel you’re going down, hit the brakes, pull the handbrake! Stabilize yourself and keep going again, even with the first gear. As time passes, we will grow familiar with the temptations and tactics that Satan is using on us (as we grow familiar with the mountain road the more we tackle it on), and we will eventually be able to move up and up, no matter how slow-paced it may be, towards our final destination with God.