Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I Learned on the Mountain

Last week I climbed a mountain. The mountain was not very big. I needed no special equipment at all. In fact, I wore my street shoes and just took off walking. It was hard though. Remember, I am a little fat (a lot fat?) and firmly into my middle-aged years. Nothing physical is easy for me anymore.

But I felt a strong need to climb that mountain. It was almost a call that moved me to take off walking. I did not take long for me to get pretty winded. It was hard work. I started out very slowly, but I had to stop and catch my breath right away. And then I had to stop again. And then again. And then I got a little sweaty. When I reached the top I found a rock to sit on and I finally caught my breath.

I sat there for quite some time. I am not sure how long it was. I looked all around across the valley below me. It was beautiful. Urban blight became a little bit beautiful from this perspective. I read from the Bible. I thanked God that even I could have a sense of accomplishment. I was silent, waiting for something. I am not sure what I was waiting for, and I am not sure that it happened.

Then I came down. That is when I learned the most important thing. Coming down made me a lot more nervous than going up. I was not afraid of the height. I was feeling fine. I had rested on the top long enough that I had plenty of energy for the descent. What made me nervous was that I might fall. The trail that I was following was well-traveled. There was a very distinct path. For most part the path was covered with rocks that made hiking more enjoyable and safe than a dirt foot-path would. And it was those rocks that were there for my safety and convenience that made me nervous. I was afraid that the rocks would shift and that I would fall. Thankfully, I did not fall, but that's when it hit me:

It is easier to fall down than it is to climb up!

The truth of that thought has tremendous implications. The stakes are high. Be vigilant. Be careful. Always be prepared. Know that the trip to the top is hard, long and dangerous. It takes great commitment and care to reach the summit. Falling down, on the other hand, can happen to anyone at anytime.

This is true in life as well. Never let your guard down. Do not take a day off. Be careful and committed everyday.

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