This first week of 2011 brings thoughts of a fresh start, a new beginning. What will unfold this year? Will there be happiness, sadness, challenge or adventure? For many of us, there will be a combination of all four.
Picacho Peak came into view as we drove on Interstate #10 two hours southeast of Phoenix, Arizona. With an elevation of over 3500 feet, it’s a hiker’s delight. I had readily agreed to climb that mountain while sitting comfortably in my brother-in-law’s home. It sounded like an adventure I didn’t want to miss during our winter holiday this year.
But as the beauty of the blue sky, the rugged mountain and desert stared back at us, so did the height of the Peak. Bare rocks showing off their steep vertical stood ready to challenge every fibre of my being. Did I really agree to this?
After parking the car, Don, Dee, Bob and I got out. Loaded with water bottles and a light lunch, we started the two mile hike to the top. At first, just a few small rocks covered the trail, but soon large boulders took their place, making each step an effort.
My walking routine back home hadn’t prepared me for this cardio workout. Are we almost there? A look below showed we had made progress, the distance to the bottom evoking chills down my spine and all the way to my toes. Can I make it? Another glance convinced me it was insurmountable.
A few feet ahead I spotted the cables, erected to provide climbers leverage to conquer the steep incline. Netting hung loosely near the precipice for those who lost their footing. Thankful for borrowed gloves, I grabbed the cable and pulled, now questioning my upper body strength.
“Look over here, I want a picture.” I turned my head slowly to see Don snap a memory, proof that we were still going up. Fresh thoughts of children and grandchildren at home, how high and how foolish we were, sent fear deep into the pit of my stomach. Suddenly retreat seemed the most favourable option.
“It’s our choice,” says Chuck Swindoll, “We can allow fear to make us victims or we can challenge fear to work for us by driving us to a deeper dependence on God.” I opted for the latter.
Looking back at the rock, I discovered something. Focusing on the rock ahead and just putting one foot in front of the other, my confidence grew. Two hours later, cheers arose as we stepped on to the top. What a view awaited us! Those sandwiches tasted good until another frightening thought—the only way down is the way we came up.
I marvelled that more than a month before, God gave me a verse for 2009, Habakkuk 3:19. “The sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights.” (NIV)
God made us for climbing mountains. But, as Steven Curtis Chapman states in his book The Great Adventure, “Once we start factoring in reason, and understanding, and safety, and comfortable living, we miss so much of the adventure we’re really called to live, which is a life of faith.”
Sound simple? I like it that way. And it appears Jesus had a passion for simplicity, stating that even children have the qualifications to enter the kingdom. They clasp faith as easily as taking the hand of a child next to them in a game of Ring Around The Rosy.
Perhaps that’s what trusting is all about—taking Jesus’ hand, knowing He will guide my steps. After all, He had first-hand experience climbing the mountain.
Have a wonderful 2011 and remember to ‘live’ every day!
Enjoying the adventure