by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

Do you ever feel like your life is nothing but an uphill journey? I’ve found that when I make such a complaint it’s because I’m more focused on the climb — particularly each step I’m striving to make — rather than the broadening view surrounding me as I go up.

I had never stood on a mountaintop before my trip to Italy — much less stood on any snow-covered mountain. So when my friend suggested we take a gondola ride to the top of Italian alp, Monte Baldo, I said yes with some trepidation.

Now I realize that I took the easy and fast way up. Most mountains don’t have a way to comfortably ride to their top. So I suspect mountain climbing usually involves a slow walk and a steady pace with perhaps times where crawling is even appropriate. And undoubtedly, there would be many needs to take a break and rest along the way.

I can’t help but think if I had walked my way to the top of this mountain, I might have been more prepared for how I felt when I got there.

“Breathtaking” is a good word, and it wasn’t a physiological reaction to the high altitude. We trudged through the snow to Baldo’s scenic point. I wanted to look down at times to make sure my feet were following the path, but it was almost impossible to not constantly look up and outward to the infinite horizon encompassing me.

I had to pause many times — not for rest — but to take in a deep breath of appreciation for the beauty and observe the new vista I had come upon.

I had no idea there would be countless numbers of other mountaintops that would be capturing my gaze — I suspect only visible by air or on top of a neighboring mountaintop. I was surprised by the many hillside villages tucked discreetly away in between mountains. And I thought, “I never would have known they were there.”

The butterflies and anxiety I felt before boarding the gondola left almost immediately as I stepped foot on the mountain. With every step, I gained an air of calm, confidence, composure, equanimity and self-assurance that I’ve never felt before.

I didn’t need to ski or ride the snow mobile, although these would have been fun to learn and experience. It was enough — at least that day — to just be there.

I was so glad our mountaintop day was at the beginning of my Italy experience. It helped me realize what I had accomplished by making the journey. And it set the tone for the rest of my trip — dare I say, for the rest of my life.

One might think that an invitation to stay in a little Italian villa on the hillside of Lake Garda would not cause any hesitation or apprehension. But for me, it was one of the most difficult decisions of my life!

Somehow, after almost thirty years of marriage and a life devoted to the care of my husband and only child, I was feeling unsure about my purpose for the rest of my life. And I seemed to lack any independence needed to act on my own or the ability to even think about what was best for me, myself and I — as they say.

So, to go on a trip to another country — something I had never done before — without my husband, was no small feat for me. All the days leading up to my decision felt like a steep uphill climb to be sure!

I decided to go as suddenly as the invitation came, without any reason other than the feeling that it was something that I had to do.

Standing on top of Monte Baldo brought to mind a Bible scripture: “And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised.” (Numbers 14:40)

Being on that mountaintop assured me that the Lord promises purpose for our lives throughout our lives. Our purpose doesn’t reach a conclusion or diminish with age. Sometimes our journey to achieve our purpose is smooth, sometimes rugged. But it is an ascent that is doable and obtainable. And we can be certain we’ll have the angels of His presence with us every step of the way.

Yes, my friends, our life journey is always uphill. We want it to be! We need it to be! As we go up, we can be guaranteed of a better and fuller point of view. And we definitely want to reach that ultimate vantage point that the top of the mountain provides.

So give me that mountaintop view! It’s worth every step required to get there!