Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Marking the Columbia River’s convergence with the Pacific Ocean is a 125-foot concrete and steel tower standing atop a hill in Astoria, Oregon. At 600 feet above sea level, the column provides an unobstructed view of Mount Hood; the Pacific Ocean; the Columbia River; and the City of Astoria, Oregon. Equally impressive is the 500-foot spiral hand-painted frieze that depicts three significant events associated with the Oregon Territories’ founding. Standing atop the column offers a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view, only seen after ascending 146 steps of a spiral staircase contained within the column.
As a young child, I remember being initially disappointed ascending the staircase. The inside of the column was stucco-covered brickwork and metal spiral stairs. It was dark and dank. Climbing was dizzyingly tiring for a young child.
But the reward awaits you upon reaching the top stair. There the light strikes you through the solitary doorway where you step out onto the circular balcony. Upon walking through the sun-filled portal, you experience a stunning view of the Columbia River, Astoria Bridge, and in the distance, the Pacific Ocean. Forgotten is the dreary climb on a drab metal staircase surrounded by stucco.
Decades later, when I see Astoria Tower pictures, my immediate recollection is of wonder and the fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. It is not the dark interior and the dreary climb. Why? Because the monument’s design and construction are for visitors to experience the monument physically, visually, and emotionally. Our senses are engaged in our interaction in and around the tower. The pinnacle event awaits us at the end of the climb. And that experience, the awe of the moment walking out onto the balcony, is the one remembered.
God, the architect of our world and lives, designed us to experience life, and Him, spiritually and with all our senses, to interact with Him as we interact with the world. But there are times where we feel adrift, alone, and seem to be dizzily walking in circles. We also experience beautiful life events filled with joy and happiness. Which ones do we remember? Life is hard, and the journey is difficult. Climbing life’s stairs is exhausting and dull when climbing alone, especially when the dark surrounds you. Have you walked into the light and onto the balcony, or are you stuck on the dreary stairs? How do we learn to see our lives through a different lens when we are climbing. We have to experience life and His creation as God the Architect designed.
God desires and designed you for a relationship, to walk with you during the climb-your journey. He sent his Son to provide you a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. (1 Pet. 1:3-6) Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13) Do you know him? If you do, don’t lose heart.
In light of life, the journey and its troubles is a light momentary affliction. Remember, a banquet awaits. (Ps. 23) The journey, which is sometimes difficult, dreary, and dull, is also filled with joy and happiness. Both prepare us for the glory beyond all comparison. (2 Cor. 4-16-18) What we see now is not the end. Press on toward the goal to win the prize. (Phil. 3:14) Focus your journey on the light. Rejoice! You will finish the race and walk through the sun-filled portal to a place where you will know and be fully known. (1 Cor. 13:12). Until then, keep climbing. Experience life with Him and through His Spirit. One day you will step out at the top step and experience His Glory beyond all comparison.
The climb will pale and be forgotten, replaced with unspeakable joy because you will then see He was there for you. Always.
Enjoy the view.