(Chimanimani Mountains – Zimbabwe, Africa)
TOUCHING THE FACE OF GOD
The Eastern Highlands that separate Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe), from Mozambique are appropriately named for their mountainous terrain. The two countries are separated by range after range of majestic mountains. The highest being the great Chimanimani Mountains soaring to the lofty height of 8000 feet above sea level. These “giants” of God’s carvings in the earth, afford the most spectacular views to those who choose to ascend their resplendent heights.
Nestled in one of the valleys of the Eastern Highlands is the border town of Umtali, (Mutare). Umtali was founded in 1897 as a fort, about 5 miles from the border with Mozambique, and is just 180 miles from the Mozambican port of Beira; thus earning Umtali the title of “Zimbabwe’s Gateway to the Sea”.
“Christmas Pass” is the mountain pass that leads into the city from the west. The pass was named by some of the colonial pioneers who camped at the pass on Christmas Day, 1890.
Umtali is where my husband, Glyn grew up.
I was familiar with this area but came to know its magical beauty more intimately once Glyn and I started courting.
There is something about climbing a mountain that is soul stirring, challenging and totally invigorating. The higher you climb, the harder the challenge becomes but the rewards of those higher altitudes far out-weigh the physical pain the climber endures.
For the adventurous climber who endeavored to climb the Chimanimani Mountains, a variety of surreal landscapes awaited them.
Imagine with me what you or I would experience if we were one of these climbers.
When we enter the valley foothills, we see little except the immediate vegetation: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is. Our limited vision is unable to comprehend its soaring height.
Confined in the valley, we discover the glorious splash of color from the indigenous Msasa trees and the refreshing song of the brooks, as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain.
Climbing the first rising knoll, we find the valley lengthens and widens beneath our feet. Go higher, and we see the country for four or five miles around, filling us with delight with the ever widening scene. As we keep climbing higher the rocky outcrops present an exhausting challenge that makes us tempted to stop; but the landscape enlarges with such pristine beauty, that it urges us on ever higher.
We must push on until at last we reach the summit, where the ultimate visual reward awaits us.
From the summit we have a clear view of indescribable beauty laying to the east, the west, the north, and the south, unfolding before us.
We can see the veld (bush), spreading its scrub thorn trees in Mozambique from one direction; from another direction we see a waterfall tumbling over craggy rocks into a valley filled with blooming Masasa trees in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe); and yet from another direction we see the smoke drifting on the wind from the village huts along the river’s edge!
From the vantage point of the summit of the Chimanimani Mountains we can literally see two different countries – Mozambique and Zimbabwe! Added to that we are so high that we can reach out and touch the puffy clouds floating by!
YES! The scene from the summit is far greater than we could have ever imagined!
There are lessons from a mountain climber’s perspective that can be applied to our Christian walk.
Our journey and walk with the Lord is somewhat like climbing the Chimanimani Mountains.
When we first become acquainted with the Lord, we have a very little understanding of His Nature.
Then we push higher up the mountain of life discovering that prayer and reading the Word, open the eyes of our soul to more of His Divine nature. The beauty of “His essence” fills our vision and causes our love for Him to grow.
But we must push on in our daily walk until we reach the summit.
We will negotiate deep precipices, jagged rocks that bring pain, exhaustion will become our daily companion. Also we will feel the sting of the taunting scorn of many who say we can’t finish strong…… but we must push on!
Once we reach the summit high above the mists of the plains and the vapors drifting up from the valleys, we begin to see both earthly and heavenly vistas in truer light and our perspective is changed for eternity!
Here we discover the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes all knowledge!
Yes, from the summit we can “touch the face of God”!
The Apostle Paul, grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a Roman dungeon, could say with greater emphasis than he ever had when he exclaims:
Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Weary pilgrim, take a leaf from Paul’s writings; each experience has enhanced your climbing skills and determination.
Each trial has been like ascending another height on the mountain of this life.
To the Apostle Paul his impending death seemed like gaining the summit of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of God, to whom he had committed his soul.
Are you weary? Keep pressing on!
Are you discouraged? Keep pressing on.
Are you filled with fear about the future? Keep pressing on!
Are you suffering & facing a terminal diagnosis? Kept pressing on!
Are you shattered by betrayal? Keep pressing on!
The list is never ending but by now my readers should understand the heart of this Nugget!
My weary pilgrim companions, PRESS ON, soon we shall reach the summit, the mists that have clouded our vision and the trials that have stalked our steps, will flee away and we will reach out and touch the face of God in eternal adoration, never to leave His glorious Presence again!