Continue Up The Mountain

Recently we took a trip a couple hours away to go for a hike and enjoy the day. The hike was up a mountain which was only a mile long. We often go for 2-3 mile walks several times a week and even walked all winter long last year when the temperature were in the single digits, so we figured this wouldn’t be that bad.  

When we got to the entrance to the hike, I stood at the bottom and looked up and thought “that’s kinda steep” and doubt began to fill my head. I guess I should add that another reason doubt taunted me was because we had slacked off on the walking the last few months and I wondered how that would affect hiking up a steep mountain. We would soon find out.

As we began up the mountain, it wasn’t long before I realized those few months probably would have benefited me, and thinking about it, we should probably add some incline to our walks as well. Walking a straight path a few miles and walking uphill for a mile, along with a few areas of climbing some rocks are two entirely different things! Needless to say, I had to take breaks as we continued up the mountain. I found I was becoming increasingly irritated with myself for the breaks I had to take and the way it slowed us down. A few times, seeing my irritation, Ken would encourage me to look at how far I’ve come and to continue moving forward. It also gave him the chance to stop and take pictures along the way or rather his picture taking gave me a chance to rest a couple minutes. I agreed with his encouragement and continued on as I enjoyed the hike otherwise. A couple of times I even prayed for God to give me the drive to continue on and about ¾ of the way up, I felt it. A few times some people would pass us on the way up and I found myself comparing myself to them and I would get irritated all over again but then I heard a voice in my head say “Look at how far you’ve come, not at how difficult the hike is.” I knew the Lord was ministering to me. I looked behind me as if to see how far the bottom of the mountain was (which I couldn’t really see it) knowing I was getting closer to the top of the mountain and further away from the bottom. I would think “look how far you’ve come. A few years ago you would not have been able to do this.”  This is true, so I made it a point that whenever I wanted to rest, I would push myself to go a little bit further than before and then rest. I reminded myself of the challenge and that challenging ourselves is a good thing as it brings growth.

Once up at the top of the mountain, I was glad that I had continued on and made it to the top. There was a day I would have talked myself out of it and went back down to the bottom, frustrated and discouraged. As we took in the view, I enjoyed the beauty of the Fall colors and was grateful I was able to hike and enjoy God’s creation. After a few minutes we walked along another path to the small cabin that is up there which has some historical items and photos. There was a man sitting in the cabin and he came outside once people began showing up. He looked to be maybe in his late 50s to early 60’s. When Ken climbed the tower to take photos, I stayed at the bottom and spoke with this man a bit. I asked him how he gets up here every day and whether he walks up or has a place somewhere near (figuring there was a cabin up here so maybe another small one for him). He stated that for the last 12 years, he has volunteered to walk up the mountain and care for the cabin and greet the people for 5 months out the year. He said it took him 1 hour to walk up and 20 minutes to walk down. I said he had to be in great shape to do it. He stated that he takes many breaks on the way up and also feeds the birds on the way and that he enjoys what he does.

As we began our trek down the mountain, Ken told me that he was listening to the caretaker speak with another woman at the cabin and he told her he was almost 70 years old! I couldn’t imagine trekking up and down this mountain on a daily basis but anything is possible when you are consistent with it and practice it daily.

As we walked, some lessons came to mind.

1. Do not doubt nor be discouraged – it’s easy to doubt and become discouraged when we are faced with a difficult challenge. We tend to look at the difficulty of the challenge instead of looking at it as a challenge that will help us to grow and better ourselves. When we become discouraged and doubt is filling our minds, we must take a moment to pray and ask the Lord to strengthen us and help us to continue on so we can make it to the top of our mountain no matter what that mountain may be. We can be sure that God will hear our prayers and give us what we need to continue on.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. (Mark 11:23)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

2. Don’t compare yourself to others – On our journey in recovery and/or our Christian walk, we must realize that not everyone moves at the same pace or heals at the same time. Our walks are different, our pace is different and our healing is different. Some may be similar, but most are different. Thinking back to those I met going up the mountain and coming down, they moved at different paces. There was a couple that ran, some moved at a quick and steady pace, and others just moseyed along, enjoying the day. I saw a few stop and take breaks along the way as well. One young woman walking at a good pace, tripped and dropped to her knees. I asked if she was ok and she smiled and said yes. This made me think about how on our journey, (or race as Paul calls it in 1 Cor 9:24) we must not only be concerned for ourselves, but we must be concerned for others along the way when we see them trip or stumble:

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

 2Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.(James 5:19-20)

At the end, I saw a middle aged woman who didn’t appear to be in the greatest of shape and possibly had a health issue, come walking slowly to her car using her trekking poles. Though moving slowly, she did not allow the challenge of this mountain to intimidate her. We must remember that some people may be in better shape due to what they’ve been through and their experience in moving forward, applying the Word of God, etc. They are used to facing challenges and though they may find certain parts of their walk difficult or challenging, they have learned to face it head on with the Lord to overcome it and move on to the next challenge. Some may be less experienced, walking for a short time and have to build up their endurance and faith in Christ to continue moving on up their mountain until they get to the top.

3. Look at how far you’ve come – We always tell people not to look backwards but to look forwards as we don’t want people to focus on their past but to keep their eyes forward on Christ. Yet, there are times we must look back to see how far we’ve come when doubt and discouragement tries to stop us from facing our challenges or mountains. Sometimes we don’t realize how far up our mountain we really are until someone points it out. We just seem to focus on how tired we are or how much more we have to hike instead of how far we’ve come and winning the race and getting to the top of our mountain. It’s all about perspective.

4. Don’t pass up your challenge – We must not pass up our challenge when it’s presented before us. God knows when we are ready to tackle it. We must seek Him regarding it and fill ourselves up with Him prior to and all the way through our battle. We must have faith in knowing that He will walk with us in order to help us through it. When it comes to bettering ourselves and cleaning ourselves up, we must not turn away from doing it because of fear of failure. When we clean out our garage, we don’t wait until we think we are ready and not do anything to begin. We work piece by piece, area by area until we have completed the job.

5. Be consistent in your walk – when we are consistent with spending time with the Lord, prayer and reading the Bible and applying it to our lives, we will be spiritually strengthened which means facing the mountain and getting to the top will be easier. When challenges or problems arise, we will be able to handle them and overtake them instead of them over taking us. If we go months without seeking, reading and praying, our emotions will overtake us when problems arise. We will feel defeated, but once we begin applying the word, praying and seeking the Lord on a daily basis, we will be strengthened.

At the end of the hike, I was glad I had completed it. It really was an enjoyable hike and I loved to see the beauty of nature. I was able to see how far I’ve really come over the last few years and how my pace had quickened though I took several breaks. I was now able to push myself forward where a few years ago I may have talked myself out of it.

What do you see when you face trials and tribulations? What do you see when you want to recover from something? Do you see a huge mountain in front of you that you cannot overcome, and back down in fear or doubt or do you seek the Lord for strength and tackle the mountain head on, little by little? Whatever it is you wish to break free from, have faith that the Lord will walk with you through your journey, strengthening you and guiding you along the way. Remember, the higher up the mountain, the clearer the view.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)