It’s much like travelling through a fjord, but the journey by cruise ship from the Adriatic Sea to the fortified town of Kotor in Montenegro, involves travelling through a ria, or submerged river canyon.
Kotor was one of the most fascinating places we visited last year on our trip to Europe. The old town, surrounded by its high walls and moat, dates back to the middle ages and the history is almost overwhelming as you walk along the cobbled streets and see buildings from the days when the Venetians ruled the town, still being used.
Almost. Every now and then your eye catches sight of something between buildings that makes you realise there’s something above you need to discover.
It’s not just the massive mountain that looms high over the town that beckons, but your eyes are drawn to the ancient city wall that climbs a distance of 4.5km up almost vertical cliff face. You also catch a glimpse of a tiny building halfway up the mountainside and you can’t help but wonder what lies beyond this ancient town.
The path upwards is long and winding and half-way up you come across the building you saw from below. It’s the Church of Our Lady of Health and from the steps at the front of the church you can look back at the incredible scenery that surrounds Kotor. The picture at the top of this post is my evidence that I made it to the church.
However, I was still only halfway up. Look up from the church and you can see the mountain path stretching further upwards to St John’s Fortress.
Often my eyes are focussed on what is happening around me. The day to day world of business that crowds in and takes all my attention. Then I get a glimpse of something higher. It’s the realisation that the world is bigger than the day to day, and that God has greater plans for my life.
It’s in those moments that I realise that I can climb higher, and as I meditate on the goodness of God I am overwhelmed by his love and grace and the matters that seem so pressing fall into perspective. I am only part of the bigger picture, but despite my insignificance I am assured that God loves me with a love that is so much deeper, so much greater than anything I can imagine.
The great mountain that surrounds Kotor is a reminder to me of the need to keep looking up. The sights that surround me at ground level are tempting and enjoyable, but their real beauty and worth comes into perspective as I look upward to God and experience afresh his mercy and grace.
The Apostle Paul put it well in the good book: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Keep Looking Up!