Mountains I am willing to climb
By BISHOP ROBERT HAYES JR.
Psychologists verify that most of us barely scratch the surface of our talents and abilities when confronted with difficult tasks. We seldom "go all out" for anything, rarely giving our whole selves in great enterprise.
Now and then something does come along that stirs our passions — or backs us into a corner — and only then do we expend ourselves in total commitment.
It’s not only some youths who claim boredom and "check out" because they are not motivated to make hard decisions. Adults as well opt out, choosing paths of least resistance.
But the wide road on a life journey void of tests and trials is greatly over-exaggerated.
That’s why I make a case today for the matters that try us, push us to use every ounce of our God-given capabilities to deal with challenges.
In the book of Joshua, there is a very interesting story that helps me make my case.
After the children of Israel escaped from the land where the Egyptian pharaoh held them captive, they wandered many years, on an arduous journey in wilderness. Finally they came to the Promised Land.
Among them was 85-year-old Caleb, who was originally chosen by Moses to spy in the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:6). You would think roaming the desert for more than 40 years would have diminished his strength and vitality.
Not so with this man of God.
In a remarkable passage found in Joshua 14:10-12, as the land is being divided among the tribes, Caleb says:
"Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for 45 years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this mountain that the Lord promised me that day!"
Caleb was declaring: I am still strong. I can overcome the difficulties.
Put simply, Caleb wanted something to challenge him!
We all possess untapped capacity to plunge into new challenges. Like Caleb, we all have the ability to rise and face circumstances if we use the gifts God has given each of us.
And when we expend our energies in full commitment to a cause, God supplies us with even more energy. It’s much like the pull of Earth’s gravity on our bodies. Science proves that the bigger the mass, the greater the pull of gravity.
Another way to state this: The bigger the mountain, the greater the energy given to the climber.
Something about that which is difficult lifts the Calebs of our time to achieve the improbable and seemingly impossible.
Now, having made my case for great challenges, let me explain why I present Caleb’s story to you.
God’s promises are for us to prosper, but to realize those promises, we must be willing to tackle difficult tasks and make hard choices.
At our Annual Conference in late May, we passed several pieces of legislation that will test us both in the near and distant future.
The complexities of rising health care costs for our retirees had to be addressed.
The reallocation of our budget to more intentionally focus on New People, New Places will change the way we fund other vital ministries and programs in our Conference.
The processes and procedures for re-aligning our districts from 12 to eight by next June present a significant challenge.
I see these major issues as mountains that I am willing to climb, and I ask all of you as Oklahoma United Methodists to commit with me to climb and conquer these mountains!
I realize there were some at Annual Conference who did not share the sentiments of the majority. But I ask everyone to put aside your differences and ready yourselves for this assault on the improbable.
Oklahoma Annual Conference, we are strong! We can overcome the difficulties ahead of us! We must prepare the way for generations that follow to inherit a robust and vital church that is transforming the world!
I intend to use every gift God has given me in this pursuit. On behalf of every member and every church in our great Conference, I proclaim, "Give us this mountain!"
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