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I have a love/hate relationship with hiking. While I love being out in nature and the fresh mountain air, there’s usually a point where I ask myself, “Why did I think this would be fun?” That question is always answered when I get to end of the trail or the top of the mountain. The view waiting for me always makes the journey feel worth it, and I’m reminded why I do the trails I do.
Two summers ago I got the chance to do Half Dome in Yosemite and of course I jumped at the chance. After looking over the trail and the infamous cables you have to climb to get to the top, I jokingly asked if I could just have a helicopter fly me to the top and drop me off. Unfortunately, that is really expensive and they usually only break out the helicopter for emergencies. So up the trail I went, praying the eight miles to the top would be quick and painless.
But of course it wasn’t. About halfway up I started feeling sick from the altitude. My backpack seemed to be getting heavier with each step, and I started getting really hungry. There was a small encounter with a bear, and I remember asking myself if this was really going to be worth it – because at that point, I was ready to be done. Thank goodness for encouraging strangers along the way and snacks to keep me from getting hangry. (It’s a real thing.)
When I finally reached the top I had tears in my eyes. The discomfort, exhaustion and bear incident all left my mind as I stood on top of the world. Yosemite stretched out as far as I could see, and the beauty erased all my negative thoughts. The adrenaline from being at the top made the trip down pretty quick, and before I knew it I was at the bottom, stuffing my face with pizza.
My experience with Half Dome seems to mirror part of my journey with the Lord. Recently some hard things have come up, and I have been faced with the decision to either hike through them or shove them down and let them continue affecting me. I jokingly asked the Lord to just give me a ride to the end, to avoid walking through the discomfort and pain that will inevitably come. While the easy way out seems more appealing, it won’t bring the healing and growth that walking through it would bring.
Thankfully, I have the Lord as my guide through those hard times. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” In those moments where we are feeling worn down, discouraged and tired, we can cling to the promise of healing and growth in the Lord.
We are told to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV). He is not running in front of me or dragging behind me; He is right next to me, loving me and encouraging me to keep going. The mountains we climb in this life are not meant to be climbed alone!
A phrase that’s been popping up a lot in my life lately is from a song by Rob Harris that says:
Don’t tell God how big your mountain is
Tell the mountain how big your God is
Nothing we go through even compares to the might and power of our Lord. And by relying on Him, we can reach the top and see the glorious view waiting for us.
 “Tell the Mountain (Karen Staley vocal)” Karen Staley (Hobo Lizard Music/BMI), Mark Narmore (Oven Music Inc./BMI) and Rob Harris (Identical Songs Publishing/ASCAP and Carpenter’s Cup Music/ASCAP) 2011.