Life as a Climb

Is it worth it?


The other day, some friends took me on what I thought would be a short climb. We parked the car and took a look at the sum­mit. We got out our climb­ing gear and started putting on our boots and gath­er­ing what we needed in our back­packs.

It doesn’t seem that far or that dif­fi­cult. Good! I thought.

Dur­ing the win­ter, I had suf­fered a knee in­jury and sub­se­quently felt a bit out of shape. In any case, I was look­ing for­ward to some­thing sim­ple.

We started walk­ing up­hill, and it wasn’t long be­fore my legs be­gan to hurt and I was hav­ing a hard time breath­ing, but I was still hope­ful it would be a short climb. Then the path changed into a rock­ier, wind­ing trail. We were still sur­rounded by tall trees that kept us from see­ing any kind of view around us. I knew we must have been mak­ing some progress, judg­ing by the time, but it wasn’t un­til we came out of the woods and stopped by a gor­geous look­out point that we could ac­tu­ally see the progress we’d made and how far we still had to go in or­der to reach the top.

Those few min­utes spent ad­mir­ing the breath­tak­ing view of the lake

be­neath us, tak­ing a pic­ture and a sip of wa­ter, en­cour­aged us and gave us the feel­ing that we were do­ing well and mak­ing progress, even though the sum­mit still seemed quite far.

Then the path turned into a gen­uine climb, and I could feel my­self be­gin­ning to panic a lit­tle. The sky had been gath­er­ing dark clouds, and a few rain­drops started fall­ing, mak­ing the rocks slip­pery. We met oth­ers along the way, some ex­pe­ri­enced climbers, some at­tempt­ing the hike for the first time. The un­cer­tainty of the weather made ev­ery­one feel some trep­i­da­tion. The rain didn’t last long, but the clouds re­mained. It wasn’t an easy climb, but the view got more in­trigu­ing and ma­jes­tic over time. It def­i­nitely made it worth it all.

At one point, on a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult pas­sage, my more ex­pe­ri­enced friend whis­pered in my ear, “You’re do­ing well, you know. There are oth­ers climb­ing to­day who are hav­ing a much harder time.” Those few words had a pro­found ef­fect on me: they turned my gaze away from my­self and my per­sonal strug­gle. I took a look at a girl climb­ing for the first time, who looked wor­ried. She was slowly mak­ing it too, helped by her friend. I smiled at her and said a few words. What a help en­cour­age­ment can be: “A word fitly spo­ken is like ap­ples of gold in pic­tures of sil­ver.”

1 And fi­nally, the top! There’s al­ways some­thing ex­hil­a­rat­ing about reach­ing the sum­mit, no mat­ter how tough the climb, but this time a mag­i­cal sense of peace filled my soul and brought tears to my eyes. I was able to see the path we had taken to the top. Many turns were needed in or­der to get up here, and they had made the jour­ney richer—not eas­ier, but def­i­nitely more in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing.

On the way back down, I couldn’t help but re­flect on some of the events that have taken place in my life. When you are in the thick of the for­est and on a hard up­hill climb, it’s of­ten hard to make sense of things or un­der­stand where you’re stand­ing or to gather the strength and con­vic­tion to keep go­ing. All you can feel is the sweat, the strain, the tired­ness. In that mo­ment it’s so easy and even un­der­stand­able to give up and turn back, and to be hon­est, a few times I have been so tempted to.

What has kept me go­ing has been Je­sus and His Word, as well as the en­cour­age­ment and sup­port of dear friends along the way.

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