by Kelly Pontsler, Major –
It’s 2010—and this, my friends, is a year for moving mountains! I spent the last days of last year pondering mountains. You know about mountains, right? You’ve probably encountered some in your life, those massive, (seemingly) insurmountable beasts of mindset or circumstance that land right in the middle of life’s road. Some have existed for eons; others crash down in front of us suddenly, without warning. In either case, they are there—big, and daunting, and at times terrifying. What do you do when you’re face to face with a mountain?
During the Christmas holidays I enjoyed a few days with my sister and her family. One evening we caught a program on TV about climbing teams on Mt. Everest. Face to face with a mountain, these men and women had only one thought in mind: Conquer! Whatever it takes, get up the mountain and stand on top! Looking at the terrain and the conditions, for most of us to even reach the camp at the base of the mountain would be exhilarating. But for these committed climbers, it was the top or nothing else. They’ve spent years training and preparing for that moment. For those climbers, it isn’t the mountain that needs to move, it is themselves. Face to face with the mountain, they get going.
Now I will confess here, for all to see, that I also went to a ton of movies during my Christmas vacation! (Popcorn is a lunch food, right?). And the best of the lot was Invictus. The movie is set during Nelson Mandela’s first term as president, and relates the story of South Africa’s run up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. In a word, I would say that this film is truly inspiring! After decades of violence and mistrust in the era of apartheid, how do you bring a country together? I won’t spoil it for you. But as I walked out the door, the words of Jesus flicked through my mind: “If you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains” (See Matthew 17:20).
Nelson Mandela moved a mountain! I can’t imagine what it felt like for him to step out of prison after 27 years to encounter the mindset and circumstance of his homeland on that day. But moving the mountain of apartheid was both his mission and his promise to his country. Face to face with the mountain, Nelson Mandela planted some small seeds in others that took hold and ultimately changed a nation.
I stumbled onto a quote in a magazine the other day, and as I often do, I tore the page out. Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said this: “There is a subtle difference between a mission and a promise. A mission is something you strive to accomplish. A promise is something you are compelled to keep. One is individual; the other is shared. When a mission and a promise are one and the same, that’s when mountains are moved and races are won.”
Some mountains are conquered for the thrill of it. It’s a personal victory and life changing for the good of one person. Other mountains need to be moved—removed—for the life changing good of many. Walk around any community in our country and you will see the evidence of mountains that must still be moved: mountains of poverty, homelessness, injustice, lost hope and dwindled faith.
“Doing the most good” is more than a slogan. It is our mission and our promise to our country. When those are one and the same, mountains will be moved.
So, good friends, Happy New Year! I wish you abundant peace and joy. Now let’s get out there and move some mountains!