By Rick Admiraal Pastor of New Life Prison Community
I just returned from a high altitude adventure in the Colorado Rockies. Traveling west with five friends from central Iowa, I participated in Ride the Rockies. Ride the Rockies is to Colorado what RAGBRAI is to Iowa. It's a one week journey across Colorado on bicycle. We rode two-wheelers from Telluride to Colorado Springs with 2,000 other bike riders. Needless to say it was an epic journey that checked off one of the empty boxes on my bucket list. The ride was challenging to say the least. We covered over 500 miles and climbed four major mountain passes: Poncha Pass, Hardscrabble Pass, Lizard Head Pass, and Wolf Creek Pass. The day we climbed Wolf Creek Pass could be considered the Queen Stage of the bike tour. It was a 91 mile day that took us over the Continental Divide at a staggering elevation of 10,850 feet! Completing that difficult day in the bike saddle may have been one of the hardest things I've ever done.
However, it wasn't all pain and agony. During the ride, we witnessed incredible natural beauty. We laid our eyes on stunning 14ers such as Mount Sneffels, Mount Princeton, and the infamous Pikes Peak. We cruised through breathtaking canyons alongside raging rivers rippling with rapids. We paused to reflect on the bright yellow beauty of a cactus flower in the high desert of Southwest Colorado. Overall it was a trip that left you awestruck. Seeing all this reminded me of a verse right in the middle of the Bible. The Psalmist reminds me that "The Mountain Peaks belong to Him." (Psalm 95:4) It's true. The mountain peaks belong to the Lord. In fact, everything belongs to the Lord. The contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church also reminds us: "Our World Belongs to God." The earth and the seas, the animals and the trees, and all of the world's seven billion people belong to the Lord. Whether or not we acknowledge it makes no difference. Everyone and everything belongs to the Lord. So it's no surprise when we witness beauty on the earth. God's good creation reflects God's glory.
The mountaintop experiences didn't come to an end when I returned to Iowa. The Thursday after I returned from Colorado, New Life Prison Community hosted a worship service at the Newton Prison. It was an incredible worship service to say the least. Overall, the highlight was baptism and profession of faith. Ten men were baptized and one man professed his faith in Jesus Christ. These eleven men committed themselves to make a stand by following Jesus Christ. At first, I was disappointed that it was only eleven instead of twelve disciples. Later in the evening, however, I was reminded of the eleven disciples who met with Jesus after His resurrection from the dead. "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go" (Matthew 28:16). Is it significant that this was also on mountain? Probably. But I suppose it's more than just spatial. It's spiritual. Whenever we meet with God, it's a mountaintop experience!
Unfortunately, not every moment of life is spent on the mountaintop reaching for spiritual highs. Whenever you find yourself in the valleys of life longing for the elusive heights of the mountain peaks, go to God's Word for comfort, encouragement, and grace. Today I encourage you to meditate on the 95th Psalm. It makes no difference if you read it on the printed page, listen to it on your MP3 player, visit the BibleGateway.com webpage, or call it up on your smartphone's Bible app. Simply pause to digest this important message: "The Mountain Peaks Belong to Him."
Rick Admiraal is the pastor of New Life Prison Community, a prison congregation in Newton, Iowa. New Life is in the middle of its third year of ministry to the imprisoned. So far it's been a big year for New Life of hosting big events, such as February's 'Piercing the Darkness' concert and May's 'Brothers-in-Blue,' a four day spiritual retreat behind prison walls. Rick & his wife Rose live in Pella with their two children: John and Annaliese.