Pike’s Peak and the Process of Sanctification

Pike's PeakTaking up a 38 acre area and 14,114 feet above sea level, Pike’s Peak is as impressive as any of the other famous mountains in the world. Twice as a child, I had the wonderful opportunity to live in both the foothills near Manitou Springs of Pike’s Peak and the nearby city of Colorado Springs. There is nothing quite like walking through Manitou and drinking from the sulfur water fountain by the bridge of what the Indians called the “medicine water” as it runs through the town. As you walk closer to the river, the smell of sulfur hits you like cold pockets of water touching your legs in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer. Both make you cringe and jump a little as you wade.

Like other prominent mountains, Pike’s Peak has snow on the peak year round. As a little boy of 2 years old and later as an 8-9 year old, it was quite a lesson in meteorology to watch clouds form off the peak when everywhere else there was not a cloud in the sky. For a kid who split his time between the beaches of Pensacola and the mountains of Colorado, no other natural occurrences captured my memory quite like Pike’s Peak weather patterns. Hurricanes come close but most people remain indoors during those spectacular forces of nature.

Today and as an adult, I have visited Colorado a few more times briefly and I carry the memories I have of my time in Colorado as a metaphor for living a Godly life. Specifically, as Christians we are both in the midst of being sanctified and in the midst of practicing sanctification. For many of us sanctification as a process can seem rather confusing. I hope to demonstrate using the metaphor of Pike’s Peak the nature of sanctification and how we are to safely navigate the hiking trail of life. Even more so, I hope to demonstrate for those of us who are, Soldiers how to navigate this thing called the military by living out our Christian Values. We hear almost daily about the Army Values or military Values but what about our Christian Values?

Hiking2There are two primary methods for ascending Pike’s Peak: one, is the hiking or trail side and the other is driving or road side. So for entertainment purposes, imagine that life is like Pike’s Peak and our only goal is to reach the summit. You have two options for achieving ascension success. Therefore, we will look closely at both sides. Some of those reading this blog may be on the hiking side of life while others may be on the driving side. To ensure no one is left out we will explore both routes.

First, we will explore the hiking side of Pike’s Peak. For the sake of space we will assume that all your basic needs for hiking are either packed in your ruck sack or have been made available to you. One of the best entry points for hiking up Pike’s Peak is found in Manitou Springs. This is a famous trail for running, biking, and hiking. Along the way, you will read the occasional sign warning you to “Stay on the Trail”. These signs are wise counsel from those who have gone on before you. Wild life is a natural phenomenon on Pike’s Peak and produces everything from snakes, to bears, to mountain lions. Aside from the mountain’s neighbors, going off the beat path yields more challenging terrain and can lead to injuries that make rescue difficult depending how far off the trail you have wondered. Finally, watch out for falling rocks and keep in mind that in the 80’s degree wise in Manitou means in the 40’s or lower after half way. Oh, almost forgot, storms don’t tell people when they are coming. On Pike’s Peak they can come about in a manner of minutes. You will know you have reached half way when you get to Barr Camp. The camp is both a great place to turn around and head back to civilization and be refreshed by the Mountain Ranger’s cooking, fire place, first aid or cabins if tired.

When it comes to the sanctification process, it is important to practice similar precautions and carry similar resources for your journey. There is a lot to be said about the Christian who stays on the trail.

Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. – Proverbs 4:27

Stay on the trail, gather what is needed for your journey to the best of your ability, take care of yourself and those you have chosen to go with you, help any along the way that may need your help, understand the rules of the trail, and be sure to thank God as you ascend.

pikes_peak_truck_on_road_06-10-2006Second, we will explore the driving side of Pike’s Peak. One entry point is Cascade Park. There you can get all the maps you will need, tourist attraction information, refreshments for the drive and kind advice to stop and take pictures along the way. You will want to stop along the way due to altitude more than anything else. The ascent by car provides a different set of challenges and there are certain assumptions with this one as well. Like it is expected that your vehicle is fully capable of driving up and down the Peak. The precautions look a little different. You are less likely to see or come into personal contact with wildlife but more likely to hit something along the way. Again, watch for falling rocks and understand the weather as best you can. However, the most important piece is your skill in driving. Today the road up Pike’s Peak is nicely paved, wide and plenty of turn off spots to let people pass. Not so back in the 1970s. Again, you are benefiting from those who came before you. The road is also known for not having guard rails as opposed to having them. Occasionally, and in certain corners you have guard rails. These are strategically placed so you don’t over shoot the road and plummet to your death and the death of your occupants. For the most part, the drive up and down is a casual affair but the physical effects can be masked by the scenery and your own stubbornness. Self-care when ascending is important because altitude sickness is a reality. Like the hiking trail, there are places you can stop along the way and refresh. The rest is about enjoying the ride with those you have chosen to ascend with.

Combined, the sanctification application is knowing your boundaries, the boundaries that were established in the past for your safety and obeying the wisdom of those who have gone before you. It may sound entirely too simple, but I think the key difference between Christians living life and those who have yet to experience the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, is honor and thankfulness. How we honor our God along the way and whether or not we are thankful in prayer to God.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. – Romans 1:18-21

22-770x468Sanctification is a process of choosing to honor God as God and thankfully serve Him as we live life and serve our country! As people who are and being sanctified it is critical that we demonstrate with our words, actions, reactions, lifestyle, practices and every other manner of being what it means to live as a Christian. The “How to” may require mentorship and accountability but in the end it will be well worth the work.

As God formed Pike’s Peak through the crucible of creation, He is forming you. This forming, requires the smelting process of sanctification. The pressure can be quite intense and the journey wearisome but as the Apostle Paul so correctly stated, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” As you ascend, seek Godliness as described in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Living in such ways makes you stand out, it separates you from the crowd and sets you apart for God’s work. Sanctification is both process and position. A final example is seen in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” When moving toward and practicing sanctification, you are considered to be blessed by God. Trust the process and position yourself for being blessed of God.

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.