My wife and I once decided to climb Pike’s Peak. Since we are both from the east coast, a big mountain to us was 5,000 feet. Pike’s Peak is 14,000.
There was a lot to love about the climb. Getting up at 3:30 AM to beat the afternoon weather wasn’t one of them. But the first 5-6,000 feet felt like a nice walk in the woods. Granted, it was a particularly long and nearly always uphill walk in the woods, but a walk nonetheless.
Then we reached 12,000 feet. That was where I felt the altitude. The exhaustion was so palpable, it was weird. If I walked 100 yards at a normal pace, it felt like a sprint. I couldn’t catch my breath. And then the fog rolled in. It left us with no sense of how far we had come or how much was left. My version of hiking horror is being condemned to walk forever into cloud banks at 13,000 feet, never arriving at the top.
And then we got there. We sat down, we ate, we talked, we laughed, the fog cleared and the view was spectacular.
There are days when the Christian life feels like that. Sometimes it’s just a nice walk in the woods. Others feel like a perpetual uphill climb into a fog bank that won’t clear. And there is, I think in all of us, a certain hope that someday we’ll reach the plateau in this life. We see people ahead of us on the path and they seem to be there. “Best I can tell, he doesn’t struggle like me. If I can just get there, wherever ‘there’ is, I can stop struggling too.” There are even whole theological approaches that support the viewpoint.
But not the Bible. Consider, for instance the repeated references in Revelation to “the one who conquers” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 5:5; 12:11; 15:2; 17:14; 21:7). The expression implies a battle or an athletic context. It’s an agonizing struggle that demands the focusing of every energy. And it’s clear that the contest is life-long. “Enduring” or “conquering” means not quitting until life itself is finished. Other passages also compare the Christian life to a race or a battle and only at the end of his life can Paul say that he has “finished his course” and “run the race.”
And if Scripture describes the soul-exhausting labor of it all, it also gives us a window into the beautiful rest at the end. The promise includes everything from the tree of life in God’s paradise (2:7), to authority over the nations (2:26). Envision battle-scarred believers, clothed in white (3:5), sitting down on a throne together with Christ (3:21), or standing together at a sea of glass, holding harps, forever singing praise to our victorious Savior (15:2). If rest and water refreshed me at the top of the mountain, what of the day when we “drink from the spring of the water of life? (21:7)
And here’s how you do it. You remain faithful to the “testimony of Jesus” until the end (Rev. 1:2, 9; 11:7; 12:11, 17; 19:10; 20:4). You refuse to give in to the false promise of alternative “Christanities” that would make the struggle easier. You don’t quit, regardless of the cost (Rev 12:11; 13:15).
This might sound fatalistic, as though the Christian life is nothing more than hanging on for dear life until it’s all over. In fact, sometimes it does feel exactly like that. But don’t forget the words used in Revelation—“overcome, victor, conqueror.” Christian living isn’t just surviving; it’s winning. Every day that you choose to follow God is an extraordinary, beautiful testimony to His power working in your life. Faithful Christians are living miracles, walking contrary to everything that’s natural and expected in a corrupt world. Victory doesn’t just happen at the end. The progress of God’s purposes happens also in the process. Embodied in the lives and choices of His people, the cause of God is not just existing or maintaining—it’s conquering.
Today, breathe deeply, even in the thin air. Step forward with strength, even though the way turns uphill before you. Lift up your gaze, though the fog restricts your view. There’s work to be done; there’s a climb to finish. Every step is an extraordinary victory, empowered by Almighty God and marveled at by 10,000 of His angels. Yours is the calling to endure and conquer. Yours is the promise of eternal rest in the presence of our Savior.
“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev. 3:5–6).”