The Climb

Written Feb 2015: The family and I went camping at Sugarloaf Campground a couple of years ago. It was a beautiful place and there was a trail that you could walk around the base of the mountain. So, we decided this would be a good way to start the day. Half way around there was a trail that indicated that you could hike to the summit if you followed it. I thought this sounded like a great idea! Of course, I had never hiked a mountain before and had no clue what to expect. With me were my husband, who was fresh off his crutches after a hip replacement, my two children and our dog. We started out on a groomed trail that was fairly steep. I thought that was challenging, but was determined to have a good time. As we continued on, the trail became more rugged and the course more difficult. Thankfully, the hike unfolded in small segments. You couldn’t see past this little piece in front of you. Each section was harder than the last, but I kept telling myself, “surely the summit is just over this rise…” Each time I was wrong. The trail dissolved into wilderness and boulders. Some places had only a rope between trees to indicate where the “path” was. At times we had to carry the dog because even she couldn’t navigate through it. It was tough. I was reflecting on this experience this week. And I realized that I was very glad that I couldn’t see the whole path before me. If I had realized how difficult it would be, I never would have started out in the first place. I realized also that I often wish that God would show me the whole “path” on the road I am walking. For some reason I think this would be easier. If only God would send me a note and say, “Colleen, this is where you are headed” or, “this is the goal.” Especially when the road seems difficult. But, in retrospect, perhaps God is wise in not showing us the whole path. If He were to show me how difficult the journey will be, no matter how awesome the end, I would likely not go. There was a fight in my head on this climb: one voice telling me to give up and turn back, and the other saying, “you’ve made it this far, you can make it the rest of the way!” God also encourages us. His word indicates that He guides us one step at a time and He says that He gives us strength to do all things through Christ. As we move through the course of our lives one section at a time, we can make it – with God’s help. At each section, we need to be careful to take a deep breath, ask God for help, and step out in faith. I, too often, spend much time complaining about the proverbial “pebbles” under my feet – making them into mountains and as a result, I never get started. I need to take my eyes off of my feet and keep them on Jesus. I need to not listen to the negative voice in my head, but hear the encouragement of God to step onto the path He has for me.
I would have lost heart on that mountain, however, there were a few reasons that I carried on. One, I had this hope that we would soon be at the top. I was wrong (the climb took hours), but hope can carry you through the darkest times even when to hope is really irrational or illogical. Thankfully, with God, we always have hope. Knowing we are not alone and that, no matter what path He has for us, in the end, there will be Glory, encourages us to press on. Also, we were not alone. There were others on the journey with us. They helped to set the pace. I often slow to a crawl when I don’t want to do something. That results in very little gains, and lots of excuses why I should give up. We also met a few of those people. One young man was running the climb. He uses it as a regular part of his workout. There was another lady who used the climb as a stress reliever. All I was doing was trying to avoid a heart attack! I saw no benefit to it. But even the Refiner’s fire is used to purify. God is not letting us go through difficult times for no reason. He will use everything to shape us into the women He wants us to be. And knowing that there are others who have walked similar paths before us, who can come alongside, walk with us, encourage us and support us is invaluable. We need to be willing to share our experiences so that others can be encouraged. If we listen to the voice of God and His encouragement, hold on to hope, and support each other through the hard times, we will make it to the summit.
As far as Sugarloaf goes, we did make it to the top. (And survived the treacherous trek back down the mountain as well.) The view was fantastic, the experience one that I wouldn’t trade and the accomplishment one for the record. The next mountain I climb I will be a little wiser though: dog – no; snacks and water – yes!

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