The locals call it Holy Mountain or Saint Mother. The world’s most daring climbers call it Utopia. Most of us simply call it Mt. Everest, earth’s grandest peak at 29,028 feet. It remains the most challenging and dangerous ascent in the world. In fact, Everest is littered with the frozen bodies of fallen climbers who’ve never been removed due to the hazardous terrain. For them, climbing it was the ultimate challenge for which to die.
On May 29, 1953, this elusive real estate finally was scaled by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. For their efforts, Hillary was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England, while Norgay politely was thanked.
Often, those who deserve more get less. Also in ministry, some of God’s choicest servants are easily overlooked. They climb the mountain unnoticed. They top the peak and plant the flag, far from the stage lights and out of sight without fanfare or reward. Their efforts are off Broadway—way off.
That’s because God’s work is rarely carried out in the spotlight of a crowded theatre. It’s always been that way.
In one of the Bible’s most notable scenes, David brought down the famed over-sized Philistine, Goliath. As a result, the slim and ruddy shepherd became a national hero. Songs were written about him. The king showered him with gifts. Yet nothing is known of the fearsome foursome that took on Goliath’s revenge-seeking brothers. The names Abishai, Sibbecai, Elhanan and Jonathan (not the Jonathan you’re thinking of) are all but forgotten. Yet each downed a giant, too.
The process of choosing the 12 disciples was not easy. Each selection would play a critical role in the Lord’s ministry and the formation of the church. Therefore, Jesus prayed all night prior to their announcement. Yet with all that effort, I still find myself wondering why some of the 12 were chosen.
• Thaddaeus—a name meaning “Breast Child,” which was probably a reference to being the runt in his family. With such a stigma he possibly labored under an identity crisis or poor self image. I’d pass, but Jesus found him worthy.
• James the less—as Mark called him. Apart from having an eternally humbling nickname, we know nothing more about him because nothing more is said. Executive search committees quickly would disqualify him for the lack of a resume. I’d pass , but Jesus found him worthy.
• Simon the Zealot—whose close association with his political party has been forever branded to his name. His radical agenda couldn’t possibly gel with the Savior’s. I’d pass, but Jesus found him worthy.
For whatever reason, Peter, James and John were granted notoriety, while the others slipped into the second or third tier. Yet Jesus saw enough in each to extend His personal invitation to “follow Me.” They were His choices—distinguished or not.
Many of Israel’s judges were similar. Samson was legendary then and now. Ehud was not. Scripture gives no clues about Ehud’s background, family, intellect, personality or qualifications. We’re only told he was left-handed. Yet with a little faith and guts, this unknown southpaw delivered a nation. Less is well-known of Shamgar, Ehud’s successor.
These insignificants may be the world’s definition of nobodies, but not to God. Each scaled his mountain under the watchful eye of the Sovereign One who had called them to climb and planned their routes.
William Carey, the father of modern missions, spent the bulk of his ministry in India, far from the notoriety of those who’d be impressed by his work, translating the Bible into 44 languages; but that wasn’t why Carey had done it. He only sought the approval of One. On his deathbed, he said, “When I am gone, speak nothing of Dr. Carey. Speak only of Dr. Carey’s Savior.
Now, that’s a mountain on which we all can die.