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Attaining the Summit

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We didn’t know it was an 18.3-kilometer trail; nor had we heard that it was a climb recommended for expert hikers. The only thing we had been told was to allow a minimum of six and a half hours to complete the trek, and since we only had about six hours of daylight left, it would be tight! But the view from the summit of this 806-metre mountain, the tallest in Atlantic Canada, was said to be spectacular, and since this would probably be our only trip to Newfoundland, home of Gros Morne Mountain, it was now or never.

We struck up a killer pace to beat the clock. We pushed ourselves so hard that after just three kilometers of climbing, half of our party was dragging. At the four-kilometer mark, we came to a fork in the trail. Here an interpretive sign informed us that our previous path was a Sunday-afternoon walk compared to what lie ahead! Duly “encouraged”, my husband voiced the obvious: it would be impossible for all of us, especially the ones where were already dragging, to finish the climb before dark.

Though there was wisdom in his words, I was as determined as ever to ignore the warning and go on. After all, we could see the summit from where we stood, and though the trail at this point became a steep climb up a ravine full of loose rock, I figured it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. As long as the end was in sight, how could I go wrong? Besides, Donovan, my 11 year-old, also had his mind set on completing the climb. How could I disappoint him?

A few moments of discussion followed, then it was decided: My husband and younger son would sacrifice their climb so that Donovan and I would have a better chance of attaining the summit; and as we started up the ravine, they went set out to explore the base of the mountain.

After a few moments of huffing and puffing, Donovan and I crawled (literally!) onto the top of the rise . . . Only to find . . . Another path just as long, over just as loose of rock, and even steeper than before, to a ridge high above!

But since we were sure that this HAD to be the summit, we took a moment to sip what remained of our water and catch our breath, then by encouraging each other that we were “almost to the top”, we made it up the next ridge . . . only to find . . . You guessed it! Another steep climb, even longer and more strenuous than the two we had already conquered!

The pattern was set. As each steep, rocky climb came into view, we told ourselves that surely THIS would be the summit, and we continued on. It DID cross our minds a couple of times that perhaps this mountain really DID go on forever, that we really never WOULD reach our goal. But just contemplating this thought made us want to give up, and since we really COULDN’T go back down that loose rock, we told ourselves that no mountain can continue forever in the upward direction; the top HAD to be there, and we could trust our legs that had already brought us this far to carry us on!

Isn’t life often like this climb? You encounter trouble, but you think you can see the end of it—Sure your mom is in the hospital. But she will be getting out! You can handle it!

You trudge onward, only to get to the top of the ridge and find that beyond is a path far more strenuous than the one you’ve already trod!—Your upcoming separation is now complicated by the loss of your job. But there will be a new job. This too, will pass!

And you keep pressing onward . . . 0nly to discover when you attain the next ridge that there is yet another steep path to be conquered—After a strenuous bout of surgery, coupled with radiation and chemotherapy, the thyroid cancer was said to be in complete remission. Now you learn that it has reappeared, this time in three other parts of your body!

What do you do? Do you get discouraged at the sight of the next trial? Do you give up the fight? Do you focus on the rockiness of the path? The steepness of the road? Or do you look for outside help? Remember, Jesus is always there to pull you through to the top. No matter how strenuous the trail or how much further you have to climb, He has promised to NEVER allow you to be tested beyond what you and He TOGETHER can handle! (see 1 Cor. 10:13)

Oh—After 50 minutes of arduous climbing, Donovan and I finally attained the summit of Gros Morne Mountain. The view WAS breathtaking, and this, coupled by a great sense of accomplishment, made every step of the climb well worth the effort.

And just as OUR summit was really there, yours is too. Whatever seemingly unending circumstances and trials you face, they will NOT go on forever. You WILL get to the end. In the meantime, just as we could trust our legs to carry us to the top, Jesus is right with you, ready to carry you up the next ridge—and the next, and the next. All you have to do is let Him. Don’t focus on the circumstances, friend. Instead, focus on Jesus. And remember, when you DO attain the summit, whatever you find will be, in the long run, WELL WORTH the climb!

“Keeping your eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author and the finisher of your faith, who for the JOY set before Him, ENDURED the cross, and is now seated AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.” (Heb. 12:3)

In His love,

Lyn Chaffart

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