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Shepherd on the Mountain, by Joshua MacLeod

We all have mountains to climb and burdens to carry. Last month I found myself climbing a steep mountain in a distant country. The undefined pathway pointed ever upward and my photography backpack added forty pounds to every step. I soon regretted the purchase of “slip on” walking shoes in lieu of the more cumbersome hiking boots.

The Muslim guide I was with spoke very little English, so the best witness I could offer was a gentle smile despite the constant complaining of my feet.

After three hours of arduous climb, we arrived at our destination and my eyes… followed by my camera… connected with a keeper of the mountains: a shepherd.

I couldn’t help but remember that it was to shepherds that the angels came announcing salvation and joy to the world. Even today the shepherd is considered an outcast. How beautiful that Jesus accepted the outcast and even aligned himself with them. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” – John 10:11.

As an act of hospitality, a young sheep was prepared for the American visitors. I had heard that a sheep is silent before the slaughter, but had never actually seen the process. The lamb, resigned to his fate remained silent, giving his life for the nourishment of others. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7 In order for our team to eat, the lamb had to suffer and die.

Travelling to foreign countries to serve others can be fraught with difficulty.  I have often felt that life would be much more satisfying if the burdens would go away and the mountains would level off. Wouldn’t there be as much satisfaction in the view if I could take an elevator straight to the top? Why is it that the “beautiful feet” which bring the good news of the gospel end up bloodied and bruised from the difficult journey?


I think that the answers to difficult questions are discovered through faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him. – Heb 11:6 It is through faith in God’s promise of heaven that we are able to endure (and even celebrate) the difficulties of earth. Without an eye to eternity, the investment in others at cost to ourselves might seem foolish, but when stacked up against the joy that will come it instead creates motivation. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Heb 12:2-3


There are many mountains to climb and burdens to be carried if we are to obey the great commission to go and make disciples. There is however a great joy in seeing Christ reflected in the journey and an even greater joy at the promises that are to come.


Which mountain will you climb today?

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