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  • Writer's picturePresbyterian Reformed Church

Trail Meditations of a Pilgrim: Up Is Mandatory

By Rev. Michael Ericson

Doing a day hike in the Grand Canyon is an unusual experience in a number of ways. Not only is the scenery rather unique, but so is the direction. With most hikes, the difficult part is the first half as you ascend up to a peak, up and up, harder and harder. It’s the opposite in hiking the canyon; the easiest part comes at the beginning – going down. The hard part comes at the end, when you have hiked many hours and miles – all up and up, with the steepest at the very end.  Many are fooled and go down too far without adequate water, or preparation. There are a few hundred rescues a year in the canyon.

I came across this sign:


UP IS MANDATORY – if you want to live, that is. Down is so easy; fun, too. Many do it. Scripture tells about the broad way to destruction and many find it. In fact, it is the natural state of man, depraved in sin going down to hell. In this sense down is not optional, it is the default course. It is the easy way, and you have much company going down.

If you want to live, you must go up. You must look up to Christ as Savior to rescue and deliver you, to save your life from destruction. If you stay down, you will run out of water and the heat of the canyon will sap your life’s strength. Death and destruction await you. There is a way that leads to death and you’re on it! You now have no strength left, there is nothing in yourself to deliver you. All your good intentions and efforts to ascend to the holy place, to the presence of the Lord, are futile. You have no righteousness with which to come before the Lord. You are in need of rescue. Christ is mighty to save. He is the lone Deliverer unto salvation. Believe on Him and be saved. UP IS MANDATORY – if you want to live.

Nor, once in Christ, is the path of sanctification an easy path.  Many will pass you on the way down with ease and laughter. Some you see and you know. They have no idea what they’re getting themselves into – until they realize that they must go up. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ above, one foot in front of another until you reach the end of your journey. UP IS MANDATORY!

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