Too frequently we are sadly reminded just how quickly and unexpectedly tragedy can strike. So often, we feel safe because we are careful and cautious – not carelessly reckless. But still – we can’t be sure we will avoid a tragedy.
Six experienced hikers had their early Spring Saturday carefully planned. They would climb Mount Harvey in Lions Bay, British Columbia. It is not a climb for amateur hikers. It is considered difficult on the best of days. Besides the challenge of climbing up the 1652 metres elevation, the summit offers an incredibly spectacular view of Vancouver’s North Shore and the Lower Mainland.
Five hikers reached the summit and walked along the snow-covered peak parallel to the edge of the summit. They were aware of the winter snow cornices that develop on such mountain peaks. In fact, a week earlier, a popular website posted a warning about a cornice on top of Mount Harvey that would soon break off.
Their tracks in the snow indicated they were cautiously walking along the ridge, assuming they were on snow that covered a solid surface below – far enough away from the cornice’s break-off zone.
Another hiker, Alastair Ferries, passed the sixth hiker, who had been lagging behind his group. At the summit, Mr. Ferries saw the tracks of the hikers but not for long. The tracks abruptly ended. When the sixth hiker reached the summit – they stared at the tracks which came to an end. It must have been a tragically sickening realization for those two hikers – there could be no other explanation for the disappearance of the five hikers.
As safe and secure as the summit snow seemed to be and as careful as they were in avoiding what they thought was the Potential Failure Zone – they, in fact, were not safe at all. Tragically, the group fell 500 metres and their bodies were later recovered.
For a moment, translate this real-life story into a spiritual lesson.
We are hikers enroute to eternity. After this life, the Bible tells us there is eternity. Our own hearts have the inner sense as well – we don’t end when our heart stops beating. Mourners say: “She’s gone!” The question is: gone where?
Why do we have that inner sense about life after death? The Bible says God has placed eternity in our hearts.
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Many hikers to eternity feel they are walking on solid ground – or about as solid as one can reasonably expect. Admittedly, there’s an inner worry that periodically asks the ‘what if’ questions.
The Bible doesn’t refer to cornices but there are spiritual equivalents. Jesus talked to an older hiker to eternity in John Chapter 3. Nicodemus had been sincere and devoutly religious all his life. He thought he was walking safely and on solid ground – until Jesus told him he had to be born again if he was ever going to be in God’s kingdom. Nicodemus processed the information about the cornice he was on and immediately turned to Jesus – solid ground. Tragedy averted.
One of the most dangerous but most common cornices is good works. A life of good works seems so trustworthy. How could good works ever collapse and plunge a person to spiritual disaster? And yet it happens more frequently than we could ever imagine.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12
Warnings about trusting in good works are clearly posted in the Bible.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7
Jesus told a story of two people who built homes – one was wise and the other was unwise. One built on a firm foundation and when the storm struck – it remained strong and did not collapse. The other built his entire structure on mere sand and as soon as the storm struck, it was washed away – a total disaster.
What are you building your structure [your life] on? How secure are you? The five hikers were standing on the cornice for awhile and then it totally gave way- underneath their hiking boots and they perished physically. Are you in danger of perishing spiritually?
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2 NLT
Whoever has the Son [Jesus] has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1John 5:12
Religion, prayers, professions, baptism, good works, good luck, sincerity and everything else -other than Jesus Christ, are dangerous cornices that will ultimately collapse and end in tragedy.
Make sure you are hiking through life on solid spiritual footing. Click here to discuss this further by email.