South Africa is filled with many gorgeous mountains. They are one of the things I miss most about living there. A few times throughout my stay, I hiked up Lion’s Head Mountain with some friends. The time it took to make the trek up was always worth the view that was waiting at the top. It was from the mountaintop that I was able to see life like never before. The cities, people, and problems below all felt so much smaller, as is the case when you see things from above. From the mountaintop, I was given a new perspective. But, of course, at some point, I had to come down.

The return was never fun. The anticipation that accompanied me during the climb always seemed to disappear during my descend. Rather than expectantly imagining what I would face at the top, I felt compelled to contemplate all that I would be returning to below. The cities, people, and problems that seemed so far away before became only closer and larger with each descending step.

The end of the year can feel like climbing a mountain. As we approach the start of a new year, we are filled with great anticipation for what could be. The perspective we gain at the end of things allows us to see life with fresh eyes, but then, as with all things, we have to come down.

So how do we descend well? This is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Sometimes climbing is more difficult than the world might make it seem. We lose traveling companions on our journeys, we run into things that trip us up, and still, we are forced to keep going. So how do we do so with hope?

In talking through this concept with my dad, he shared a word with me that I must give him credit for, before sharing it with you myself.

      “Natalie,” he started slowly as he leaned back in his office chair,

“You can’t change the view you see from the mountaintop until you make your descent. It is from the perspective of the mountaintop that you can find your purpose, but it is during the descent that you make your game plan. True change will never occur below until you face what’s waiting for you on the other end.”

As he spoke, I realized that I’d been waiting for another mountaintop experience to inspire and encourage me in my journey, but that’s not where God had me. I am in my own moment of descent because it is leading me to my purpose. This is not easy, of course, but I know that it is worth it. It’s all worth it.

So, where are you?

Does God have you on the mountaintop, revealing to you a breathtaking display of beauty, grace, and unfolding redemption?

Maybe you’re in the middle of your descent, retracing your steps and remembering what you saw before in order to face what you will find ahead.

Or maybe you’ve reached the ground, and it is now time to buckle down and bring to life the beauty you witnessed on the mountain.

Whatever the case, know that God is with you (Matthew 28:20), and the perspective we each carry from our places on this journey will strengthen us along the way.

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