Send me your light and your faithful care,

let them lead me;

let them bring me to your holy mountain,

to the place where you dwell. (Ps. 43:3)

Climbers who want to reach the top of Everest know how important it is to have a reliable guide who not only knows the terrain, but how to meet the many challenges on the way up. If we want to reach the summit of God’s holy mountain, that glorious elevation surrounded by His presence, we need not only His light, but His faithful care.

God’s Word is a detailed map of the right approaches to the mountain, and the places to avoid. But even that isn’t enough; a personal guide is also essential.

There are many Sherpa guides available for climbing expeditions at Everest, and they are well aware of the dangers. Their job is not only to guide, but to keep climbers as safe as possible. They do their work knowing they may have to give up their lives in the process.

For those ascending God’s mountain, there is only one Guide. Unlike the Sherpas, Jesus didn’t do His work knowing His life could be at risk; He did it knowing that death was certain, and would be agonizingly cruel. He not only willingly gave His life for us, but left us His own Holy Spirit – a truly incredible gift.

“If you love me, keep my commands,” Jesus told His disciples in John 14:15-17. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

The disciples had been incredibly blessed to have Jesus live with them. Now, His death would bring them not only eternal salvation, but His very presence in them, and in all who would come to believe in and follow Christ.

The most valuable gift in the world is invisible to the world. Sadly, it often seems invisible even to those who have it. How conscious am I – really – that I’m walking around with God inside me? How aware am I – honestly – of how much He yearns to guide my every step, lift up my every sorrow, comfort my every fear? How often do I consult Him, ask for His control over my time, my tasks and my tongue? How much of my energy is directed by my will instead of ascertaining and accepting His? How often am I driven by worry instead of immersed in His peace?

Jesus said “. . . the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)

We all go through life carrying various loads. Some of them we’re meant to shoulder, but many actually belong to God. While weight lifting may be helpful in some kinds of strength training, our spiritual strength comes from letting God lift the weight we’re not supposed to be hefting. It takes a strong faith to let go of things that matter to us intensely. Sometimes we get there only by practising on giving Him smaller things first. However we do it, handing over our concerns and getting God’s counsel on how to proceed from there is an essential and ongoing exercise we all need. Peter urged us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) We won’t climb very high if we’re staggering under excess baggage.

Being mindful of the Holy Spirit within, and His purpose in our daily lives, is a giant step up on the mountain. We’ll still hit rocky places and slippery slopes, but with Him as our guide, we can go forward with confidence and with our spirits at peace. Jesus assured us that “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come,” and “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:13,33).

The Holy Spirit that lives in each one of us is the manifest evidence of God’s love and faithful care. He’s the guide-rope that never unravels or breaks. When we stumble and fall, it’s because we’ve loosened our grip or let go – if we’ve even taken hold of it in the first place.

May each day of our journey find us focused on God’s provision of the ultimate Guide, aware of our need, confident in His care, obedient to His will, and moving ever upward on His holy mountain.