As the thick jungle finally cleared in front of them, the exhausted pair stumbled into a clearing and stopped abruptly. Before their eyes was a series of peaks standing shoulder to shoulder as if to say “you will never get past.”
The sight could have disheartened the sturdiest of men, but the wise old greybeard was already gathering himself to press forward. Bewildered and stunned, his strong young partner continued to stare in disbelief. All these days of walking only to learn that an impenetrable barrier stood before them and their destination by the sea.
“The sea,” he repeated in a wistful voice. Though the harsh desserts lay far behind, nothing but the sight of the sea could fully erase its lasting bitterness in his mind.
“Is there no way around them?” he asked, still staring at the distant collection of thickly jungled summits. “None that does not lead back through the dessert from which we’ve come.” This was not the first time the oldened figure had seen the light dimming in a man’s eyes, but he never got used to it.
“Is there no power to move this mountain?” The youth had slumped to the ground, but still he stared at the imposing mass before them.
“Ah yes.” His wisened face lit up as he told of days gone by and mountains transported before the faith-filled eyes of the weary traveller. With every word he spoke, the young man’s eyes brightened with hope.
His elderly voice began to drift. His face revealed only a glimpse of the experiences he now pondered. Finally, his mind snapped to the present. “Up! Let us be going. The sea waits just beyond these hills.”
“Isn’t faith enough to move them?” asked the young man with a look of confusion. “It is.” the greying man responded. “But faith always steps out.” And with that they gathered themselves and started toward the daunting slope.
Minutes turned to hours. Hours to days. They trudged and they trudged, battling jungle so thick you could only rarely see the sky. Many a time did the youth question the wisdom of the elder, but was always met with the same response. “Faith always steps out.” And then he would set his face forward and take another step.
Finally, after days of trudging and battling, the jungle began to clear. But the young man was beside himself with annoyance. Had this wise one not said that faith could move the mountain? Had he not been assured that all he need do is step out?
“You lied to me!” His thoughts burst into words. “You said that faith moves mountains and we’ve but to step out. But we’ve been walking for days!”
Unmoved by the sudden outburst, the old man stopped as his eyes fixed themselves on the youth. Then they softened and he set out down the trail again. “My dear companion. Have you been so distracted that you have not noticed the mountain move? Why, just a few days ago the mountain loomed straight ahead in our path. Yet turn now and see. It has moved far behind us.”
His pace quickened as he added “Faith is not about removing the obstacle. Faith is about strength for the climb.” As he spoke these words, the jungle fell away before them and just beyond lay the sea.