Since the time its altitude was first measured Kebnekaise’s southern peak was recognized as Sweden’s highest at 6892.4 feet. Its northern peak, the second highest, stood about 14 feet lower in elevation and was therefore largely forgotten.
But all of that changed this summer. Along with all of Europe, Sweden has experienced record-breaking temperatures this year. On average they’ve reached about 15 degrees higher than normal. These higher temps revealed something extraordinary about the difference between these two mountains. The Southern peak’s extra height consisted only of ice. It melted down in this year’s summer heat, from 6,892.4 feet down to 6,879.2 feet. The Northern peak, consisting of solid rock, remained unchanged by the weather. It remains 6,879.3 feet tall, now a few inches taller than the former record-holder. The Northern peak is now the highest point in all of Sweden.
Geologists and meteorologists anticipate that the Southern peak will continue to shrink as the summer drags on. Since its uppermost portion is nothing but ice – subject to melting – it probably shouldn’t have had the “title” as “the highest” in the first place.
You know, there is a disturbing lack of concern in America over what we are made of, over what constitutes our character. All that matters to us is being “the tallest, the highest, the fastest, and the first.” Holding a title in the Guinness Book of World Records – even in the silliest category – carries greater value in our culture than being a wonderful human being.
This is why we have so many overgrown, temper tantrum-throwing babies as celebrities in our culture. Fame, notoriety, and world-records make entertainers and athletes into heroes – regardless of their childish and selfish behavior.
Yet all of those artificial marks of greatness are doomed to melt away, like ice before the blazing sun. All those “world records” are bound to be broken. All the fame and glitter will pass away. For the true measure of a man is what his soul consists of – his integrity, honesty, courage, faithfulness, love, and generosity. The person of character will survive the heat and stand tall in adversity. But the gilded moron will crumble in a crisis. Look at what God’s word tells us. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised” (Proverbs 31:30) and “He who is slow to anger is greater than the mighty and he who rules his spirit is more powerful than he who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
Dear Father in heaven, please purify the desires which drive me, the deeds which define me, and the character which determines my destiny. Conform me, dear Father, into the glorious image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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