Signing the Summit Log
This past Saturday my son Jed and I climbed Snowshoe Peak, the highest peak in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness of northwest Montana. The summit is at 8738 feet—making for a 4600 foot elevation gain from the car. It’s a fun peak with a mixture of fourth-class scrambling (unroped rock climbing, but exposed enough that you don’t want to fall), an unroped glacier climb, mountain goats all around, and one of the most fantastic views I’ve ever seen from any summit. From the top you can see the peaks in Glacier National Park 75 miles away as the crow flies, then turn around and see the Selkirk Peaks near my home in Sandpoint, about the same distance. Seeing peaks that are 150 miles apart is pretty amazing. On the summit, as with so many other mountains, there is summit log where climbers sign their name and write comments. This one was in a steel box bolted to a rock. It is always fun to read what others who have climbed the peak have written, and to see where they are from. Jed and I are recorded there now. Last year my sons and son-in-law climbed a peak that is so remote it had been climbed only about six times in the past 50 years. The summit log was just an old rusty box stuffed under a rock, but it was still there after fifty years! Their names are now on it.
As I was perusing through the Scriptures this morning, I stumbled upon Lk 10.20. After the seventy disciples had returned from the Limited Commission they joyously reported to Jesus how even the demons were subject to them in his name. Jesus responded, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” Having signed a few summit logs, I can now relate to that a little better. The most obvious parallel perhaps is the honor and reward of having your name recorded. The more difficult the mountain, the greater the honor and reward of recording your name on its summit. There’s a feeling of pride knowing you have conquered the summit, and have gone where so few others have been. But can we even fathom the honor and reward of having our names recorded in heaven’s summit log? Jesus said there are few who will get there (Mt 7.13-14). What a joy to be counted among them!
But perhaps that is where the parallel ends and the contrasts begin. For while I might proudly sign a summit log of a difficult peak, we certainly can take no pride in having our names recorded in the heavenly log. Joy, yes, but not pride. At least not pride in ourselves. We can only boast in Christ, for it was his conquering, not ours, that gets us there. And for that reason, as Christians our names are recorded in the “summit log” even before we get to the summit! Imagine climbing a mountain, finding the summit log, opening it up and finding your name already there. I’d probably protest: “Hey, who signed my name before I even got to climb the mountain?” But that’s exactly how it is with Jesus. He signs our name before we get there, and not because of his confidence in what we will do, but because of what he has done. Finally, one thing we can count on is this: God won’t change out the log after a while, effectively striking our names off the record. One time I climbed a peak that I had climbed ten years previously, only to find that my name from the first climb was no longer in the summit log, for the log had been replaced with a new one. Thankfully, God won’t do that. For in Rev 3.5 he promises, 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life….” And that is the only summit log that matters.
© 2009 Randy Hohf