This summer we rode the steepest four-person gondola in North America. That little white box of a tram climbed 4,000 ft. in about 15-minutes. While parading upward, we gained an amazing, elevated view of Oregon’s Wallowa Lake and the patchwork of farmlands below. At the tippy top (about 8,150 ft. in elevation), the air thinned and bit our noses … but it didn’t matter … because God’s art enwrapped us.
We traveled a 2-mile trail to the summit, admiring old, twisting whitebark pines that brave the incessant wind. Cheery Columbia ground squirrels popped up here and there (to our children’s squeals of delight); and patches of purple wildflowers brightened the otherwise harsh habitat.
Along our trek, educational signs taught travelers … and this one won my heart:
“While we were waiting in the Swiss village of Chateau d’ Oex to go by cable car to the top of a mountain, I noticed a sign printed in three languages. In English it said, “Please do not pick the flowers.” In German it said, “It is forbidden to pick the flowers.” In French it said, “Those who love the mountains leave them their flowers.” – Contributed by Mrs. L.A. Richardson to Readers’ Digest, June 1980.
Oh, the beauty of this message – and all the meaning within it. For me, it dissects three layers of motivation. We can obey because someone tells us to, because we fear the consequences of disobedience, or out of love – a love for the bigger picture; for our foundation and Founder.
All three levels of motivation lead to the eternally-beneficial goal: obedience.
Therefore, all three are good and for our good; and all three are spoken of in the Bible:
“… but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” (1 Corinthians 14:34)
“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him …” (Deuteronomy 6:13)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Yes, all three layers and levels of motivation are good … but there is a good, great and greatest ranking; and as the scriptures say, “the greatest of these is charity.” Charity is the purest form of love – the love of Christ, a love that never fails. Never.