When Dad walked into my bedroom and told me that we were going on a hike that weekend, just the two of us, I wasn’t thrilled. At 12 years old, I hated hiking and bugs and dirt. The last thing I wanted to do was go climb up a mountain.
But climb up a mountain we did. Dad picked one about ten minutes from where we lived that had “reflectors” for cell signals on top of it.
The hike up to the top of the mountain wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was rare that I had one-on-one time with my dad since we did most activities with the rest of the family as well, so the hike gave me time to chat with him about life. I don’t remember specifics from our conversation now, but I remember that it was nice to talk with him.
As we climbed, the hike got harder and harder. I remember thinking that the mountain was deceptive – every time I thought we were getting close, another level of the mountain popped into view. But the higher we got, the better the view became.
Finally, at the top of the mountain, we turned and took in the view of the valley on one side and the points of more mountains on the other.
My dad looked at me and told me, “This was a hard thing you did. I wanted you to do this to show you that you can do hard things in life. You just have to keep going, even when it feels like you’ll never reach the top.”
I’ve never really forgotten that lesson. Since then, I’ve only learned more each time I’ve thought back on the experience. At 12, I never thought I’d learn so much from climbing a mountain for a few hours. And now, I look back on that experience and see so much more than I ever could have back then. Here are just some of what stands out to me from that climb:
Do Hard Things – And Keep Doing Them
This is the lesson my dad specifically pointed out the day we climbed the mountain, and it’s the one that has stuck in my mind. We have to do hard things every day and those things take many forms. Whether it’s illness, confusion, contention, life-changing choices, sin, loss, or who knows what else, those hard things need to be dealt with.
I’m guessing we’ve all had times where we wanted to hide from a hard thing, shut the doors, pretend it never existed until it just goes away by itself. But, as anyone who’s tried this knows, hiding from hard things doesn’t make them go away. Eventually, we have to face those things or they’ll bury us.
A major part of our purpose here on earth is to grow and progress. It’s what God wants us to do – become better, not perfect – that’s why He hasn’t moved the mountains out of our way. Ask any person you admire how they’ve done what they have, and they’ll tell you that they failed a lot – and they always kept trying anyway.
When I got to the top of that mountain, I could see the tops of dozens of mountains in every direction I looked. If we’d kept walking, we would have started by walking downhill, but eventually, we would have met another mountain to climb. Then another. And another.
Life’s a lot like that. We’re constantly meeting new mountains, and sometimes, there’s a lot more to the mountain we’re on than we realize at first. And it’s inevitable that we’ll get discouraged when there’s another summit and another mountain to climb when we’re already so tired.
But if we quit, we’ll never see the view from the top. Every mountain we meet has something to teach us. Every mountain challenges us and we have to become stronger to reach the top of each one.
Mountains Change Our Perspectives
The higher my dad and I climbed up the mountain, the more our perspective changed. Down in the valley, the houses and trees take up a lot of the scenery, but at the top of the mountain, you barely notice them. You don’t really know how tall the mountain is until you’re at the top of it.
This is true when we go through hard things as well. We might not see things clearly when we’re struggling, and that makes it difficult for us to understand the purpose of what we’re going through. Sometimes, all we want is for the hard thing to be over.
But at the top, when you’ve done the hard thing, you can pause, look back, and see how far you’ve come. You’ll see what you’ve learned, what you’ve overcome, and suddenly, you’ll be glad you climbed that mountain. You might even look forward to climbing the mountains you see in the distance because you know, for a moment, what you can gain and become by climbing them.
We’re never quite the same after we climb the mountains in our lives because we can never forget what we saw at the top. Those moments can define us for the rest of our lives.
There’s Help When You Need It
I’ll admit it – I’ve climbed mountains alone. And I’d honestly love to do it again. There’s nothing quite like a solitary hike to bring peace into your mind and heart. But those are hikes that I’ve known well. Hikes that I no longer needed help on. And in life, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a metaphorical mountain that I could climb on my own.
I’m glad my dad was with me when I climbed that first mountain. There were times when I needed a hand to help me balance or step high enough, and I never could have found a good route to the top without him. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the top at all if he hadn’t been there.
Just like Dad was with me on that hike up the mountain, we all have our Father in Heaven with us on every mountain we climb. There may be times when we walk without holding on to Him, and that’s okay because He’s given us the tools and knowledge we need to do some things alone.
But any time we stumble, get lost, or can’t reach the next step, our Father is right there holding out His hand to help us. He never leaves us. Instead, He walks nearby, keeping an eye on us and making sure that we can and do reach the top of the mountain we’re on. Then, when we get to the top, He teaches us what we learned.
We’re never alone. God has given us strength, tools, companions, and paths to help us along our way. Our job is to keep stepping, keep moving, and keep following Him. He knows the way, and He will not lead us wrong.
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