My wife Jennie and I had the great opportunity to visit Italy as an early 20th anniversary trip. It was the best time of the school year for us to leave our daughter with grandparents. We were grateful for the hotel points and Delta miles that made the trip amazingly reasonable. Then we got the idea that we should climb Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius is an active volcanic mountain close to the city of Naples Italy. It is famous for the eruption in AD 79 that created a frozen in time feel for the ancient city of Pompeii. Jennie and I took the train to the city of Pompeii and saw the amazing almost 2000 year old ruins of the city. We imagined this city bustling with people about the time that Jesus was walking on earth.
We were told that there was a place nearby you could get a ride to close to the top of Mount Vesuvius and take like a 30 minute hike to see inside the mountain. Jennie said she wanted to give it a try so up the side of the mountain we took the trolley type vehicle. They dropped us off, told us when to meet the trolley again and we were on our own.
As we begin to climb the mountain we realized that this was not going to be a leisurely stroll. We passed benches where people were sitting given up. But we pressed on up the mountain. As some point in the climb Jennie got a cramp in her leg that she couldn’t get rid of by stretching. The pain got worse and worse so that she was only able to walk a few steps at a time.
I assured her that she did not need to keep climbing on my account, but she wanted to keep trying. Every time she had to stop we discussed if we should just head back down the mountain. It soon became a discussion of “when” we would head down not “if” we would head back down. Jennie however said she wanted to at least go as far as she could climb. I climbed a little ahead of her and noticed a roof in the distance. We decided that it must be a rest stop. We would climb to that point take some pictures and head back down.
I was impressed with Jennie as she push on to the building. When we finally made it to the building they were selling water and other items. It was then that I realized that less than 20 feet away was a place to look in and see the mountain. We had actually made it. Yes, you could climb further and see all the way around the edge but we were at the top!
This drove home a very important lesson to me. You may be closer to your victory than you think. God has given you a challenge to take on and you are feeling discouraged today. You don’t see an end in sight. You may be further than you think. The author of Hebrews would encourage us to fix our eyes on Jesus and keep moving.
Maybe you are a stay a home mom with four little kids running around driving you crazy. If they fight one more time you figure you are going to explode. I was talking to a lady who just graduated her first from high school. She said that the saying that it goes faster than you think is so true. So you are closer to the top than you think.
Maybe you are a business owner who is plodding away at the business God gave you to start. It seems like you are only taking one small step at a time. Keep plodding away! You may be closer to the goal than you think.
Or maybe you just look out at the world and are discouraged. Maybe you are discouraged by the political landscape and the state of the world as shown to us by CNN. As Paul wrote to the people who lived near Mount Vesuvius, “Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11 NLT) So don’t give up because you may be closer to your victory than you even imagine!