At the top of a waterfall, high above beautiful Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada, sits a most peculiar tea house. This tea house is a beautiful site: a log cabin equipped with a wood burning stove to heat hot tea for weary hikers. The cabin was built atop this waterfall by the Canadian Pacific Railway many years ago as a diversion for passengers to enjoy while the train was stopped in this mountain villa.
Back in the summer of 2000, my sister-in-law, her husband and I decided to hike the 2,000 foot ascent to get to this tea house while on vacation in the Banff area. Before we began our hike, we asked someone in the Chateau at the Lake’s edge how to get to this tea house. They told us that you had to take the “horse trail” to the top. This was because heavy snow still covered the ground on the high country trail and made any other route impassable to the tea house’s locale. Upon receiving these instructions, we were faced with two options: 1. We could take their expert advice, ascend the horse trail, and enjoy the benefits of the tea house experience. 2. We could assume that the instructions we received were an exaggeration, and try to find our own way to the top.
While those two options do exist, only one of the two of those options is really a valid or wise choice. We had never been to Lake Louise before, but the people we got the advice from were employees of the park, paid good money to help people like us get to the top of that tea house trail. Therefore, we took their advice, and hiked the “horse trail” to get to the top.
After having our tea in those beautiful surroundings, I decided to test the advice we had been given. Instead of heading down the horse trail like my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, I decided to blaze my own trail and follow a different path back down the mountain. About ten minutes into my journey, I realized what a mistake that was. I soon lost the “path” and found myself waist deep in powdery snow, trying to find a way to retreat back to the tea house and gallop back down the “horse trail.” Some might have thought the advice we received was closed-minded and narrow, but in reality, it was just plain fact. If we wanted to go up or down the mountain, there was really only one trail to take.
I was thinking of this story as I read John 14. In John 14, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for them . . . a place He would one day come back and take them to. After Jesus tells them of this place, He also tells them of the only way they can make it to heaven: through Him. He says in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In a sense, Jesus says that at the pinnacle of life is a beautiful place prepared for you. However, in order to get to that place, there is only one trail you can take: through Him.
Now Jesus exclusive claim on the way to God may sound narrow or closed-minded to our 21st century ears, but in reality, it is just plain fact. If there were other ways, He (who knows all) would have told us about them. However, Jesus knows that there is only one way to God, and that all other efforts to reach Him will only leave us “waist deep in snow” and helpless on the hillside of life. The only way to a holy God is by means of someone who can make us clean and acceptable in His sight. Since we are all sinful people, we all need cleansing, and the kind of cleansing we need can only be provided by Christ Himself. The paths of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Secularism sound promising, but do not lead you up the mountain of God. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we make it to paradise.
Faced with these instructions, we are faced with two options: 1. We could take Jesus expert advice, place our eternity into His capable nail-scarred hands, and enjoy the unspeakable joy of an eternity in “the Father’s House.” 2. We could assume that Jesus’ instructions are an exaggeration, and try to find our own way to the top. While both of these options exist, only one of them is really a valid or wise choice. There is only one path that leads to the top. As we follow Christ, He will always keep us on the right trail.