Friday, 2 December 2011

Kilimanjaro revealed.

All this week we have been working in churches and at a World Vision Conference in the N E of Tanzania.  Every place we have been has been on the lower flanks of  Africa's highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro.  I have heard of this mountain all my life and remember watching the old movie called the Snows of Kilimanjaro. I know a lot about this mountain, it is almost 20,000 feet high and is a volcano. It rises above the vast African plains of the Tsavo and Masai heart lands that stretch for hundreds of kilometers in every direction. It has captured the imaginations of countless generations of African tribes who live in its sight.  European explorers, settlers and writers have immortalized it in our psyche. It is shrouded with mystery as much as it is wreathed in cloud.

Arriving at the nearest airport, Kilimanjaro International, I strained to see the fabled mountain from the aircraft as we came into land.  All there was to see were  clouds.   Our hosts greeted us and assured us that the mountain was there, we just needed to look up at the right time.  Each morning I awoke with expectation of seeing the mountain. We had glimpses of the top one day; snowy crags hanging disembodied above, with  swathes of clouds  ringing the lower slopes.   We heard stories of people who had climbed the mountain and reached the summit.  It takes 5 days to get there. The last day climbers rise at 2.00am and reach the summit at dawn. Then they go back down covering in a day what had taken four to get to the top.

Each day the glimpses became more revealing. I began to get and idea of its extraordinary height and I felt its presence. My longing to get a photo and to really see the mountain grew each day.   The reason we are in Tanzania is to speak at a conference with the East African leadership of World Vision. Each day we have been sharing about the love of God who is a Father to us and that we are his sons and daughters. We are speaking about the incredible love that the Father has for us and how he longs for us to come home to him and know him loving us right now. We have had glimpses of his love, but so often our view of him is obscured by the clouds of our own brokenhearted and wounded perceptions of Him, our fear of him, our misconception of him, our tendency to hide from him.  Like the mountain we are longing for glimpses of his reality, to know him and to experience his love for us.

This morning I woke early and went on to the balcony of the room that we are staying in. I looked up to the north in the direction of the mountain and there it was, completely unveiled, bathed in morning light. My breath stopped momentarily in my mouth.  The snow on top gleamed with a compelling invitation. It was calling me to come up, to climb, to embrace the majesty of its awesome power, to experience the mountain.  I was overwhelmed as I stood there because I knew that it was not the mountain but it was the Father who was calling me, who was inviting me and longing to embrace me with his love.  It was God, my true Father, who was drawing me to rise above my brokenness and wounded ways. In that moment I felt again his love for me. It was as if he was showering me in his liquid love and I felt saturated  by his love. I knew in that moment that I am his beloved son and there is nothing I have to do to qualify for his love, he just loves me as I am.  

There was a deep resonance in my heart as more healing flowed into me. There was an all pervading sense of peace and an indescribable joy. Tears of joy soaked my face and hands as I watched the morning clouds gather in a protective veil around the mountain.  But my heart was soaring high above the mountain as I felt the Father loving me.  I know his love is not veiled from us, it is real, tangible and life changing.

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