Phoenix, Arizona is one of the most interesting cities in the U.S. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting this retirement and vacationing hot bed while participating in a pastor’s retreat. As my flight was taking off, I found myself taking in its unique beauty one last time. As I looked down, it dawned on me that I could not remember visiting many major cities in the continental United Sates with mountains sprinkled in the midst of the city. I have written about my Love for the beauty of Vegas which is situated in a valley and almost surrounded by mountains. Yet, in Phoenix there are mountains dabbled right there in the middle of the city.

As I watched the contrast between the mountains and valleys of Phoenix, it dawned on me that wherever there were mountains, residential life was few and far between. Residential life had to pause for the mountains. There was something about the terrain, the verticality, and the rockiness of the mountains that was hostile to roads, houses, and businesses. You could hike up some parts of the mountains. You could even climb up the mountains, but you could not take residence there. There was something beautiful about the balance between the mountains and the valleys of Phoenix. There was also something enlightening about this combination.

It began to dawn on me, right there at my window seat, that I was looking at a life lesson right before my eyes. The beauty of Phoenix was in the fact that it had managed to combine, balance if you will, places where you could climb with places where you could live. Such balance is so often difficult to find in the lives of people. There are those of us in life whose entire lives are dedicated to climbing mountains. Our lives become one big pursuit, quest for achievement, and/or search for the next pinnacle. To the contrary, others of us would simply live in a world of valleys where we can just exist without the desire to achieve any real feat or climb to any great height. Our lives either become mountain-less valleys, or one big mountain.

Yet Phoenix reminds us of the beauty of finding a way to live amongst mountains and valleys. It reminds us that each have their beauty and their purpose. Mountains are made to climb, but we cannot build there; they give us a place to accomplish, but we cannot live there. So many of us attempt to make a life of our climb and make our lives about our pursuits. Our lives become solely about achievement with no place to rest, live, and just be. Many of us have climbed mountain after mountain, but we have never made a home. Others of us have never felt the thrill of mountaineering. We have never challenged ourselves to enjoy the striving, struggle, and strain of reaching a peak.

In the end, I believe Phoenix has it right. Life is truly beautiful when we allow mountains and valleys to co-exist in the midst of the traffic of our lives. Our lives are so much more when we insist on making achievement a part of our lives, but we refuse to allow our mountains to be all of our lives.

Humbly in Christ’s Love,
Pastor B.A. Jackson