An Allegory of Spiritual Pride

Climbing the trail near the summit of Mount Sinai.

The spiritual journey is much like an inexperienced mountain climber who strikes out to conquer the largest of peaks with the notion that he will certainly reach the summit. Unfortunately, few make it to the top and fewer still make it to the summit. The following is just from my own experience and is told as a simple allegory.

Let me speak here of spiritual pride from a personal frame of reference. I began the journey full of hope and expectations: I was awash with joy and the comfort of great encouragement which came from all sides. I was aware (for I was well read in such matters) that spiritual pride was a common obstacle but I was certain that this was not a problem I needed to wrestle with. My eye was on the goal and was never on the inadequacy of my ability to make the climb: much like not getting into good physical shape before attempting an arduous climb. It is also like Christ’s words about the foolishness of setting out to build a tower not knowing if you have the means to finish it.[1]

My journey went well at first, as most do. There were consolations and overwhelming grace buoying me up. Once the consolations stopped, I found myself alone and in the dark, clinging to loose stones and as could be expected, I lost my grip. So I plummeted from the side of the mountain and spent some amount of time reevaluating the climb and had decided that climbing was not my thing. I had read from the masters of this journey that if you are not advancing, you are falling backward: for no one can just stay where they are. Well, I found the wisdom in that and had completely lost my exuberance for the climb.

Unhappy, sitting idly at the base of this great mountain, eyeing the summit which I once had thought was nearly at hand, I have begun to walk again up the slopes: this time with trepidation and respect for the hardships this journey requires. I no longer look to the summit. I look to the next step, watching for loose stones and obstacles. I spend the nights in fear and trembling but try to advance just a little so that I might fall into slumber and wake to find I have slipped to the bottom once again.

Can I make it up the slope or to that lofty summit? I don’t know but I know for certain that I do not possess what is needed to get there. I only hope that somehow I will be given a hand or that which I find myself in need of so that I might progress another step for another day.

It’s a hard enough climb on a sunny day while the dark nights test your deisire and enthusiasm; your faith, hope and love. I should have expected the nightfall.

[1]  For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have [wherewith] to complete it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.  __ Luke 14:28-30