It was August of 1980, I was 20 years old. I had agreed to go on a wilderness backpacking trip with my father, sister Jenny and her friend. The Sierras are so beautiful and I had been away at college so saying “yes” to this event seemed like a good relational decision. We set off and covered some good ground in the first two days; the sights were beautiful. Days into our trip we came to a large peak that promised incredible views to those who made the effort to climb to the top. Of course, those with me wanted to do just that!! I agreed to join in knowing that I had an intense fear of heights. All went well until we reached the part where trail turned to shale and loose rock which changed at the same time the trail changed from a light hike to an intense vertical stretch. I panicked; heart racing, sweating, and high anxiety that paralyzed me. As the tears came I informed my team that this point in the climb was then end for me. I slowly found a safe place to wait while the others experienced an incredible view from the top. I had missed out.
Seven years ago, Greg, myself, Nate, Dave and numerous family members decided to climb one of the Cascade mountains called The South Sister where the views were renowned. Parts of this hike were meandering and lovely along the creeks and lakes, part of this hike was intensely vertical covered with shale and loose volcanic rock. Again, I agreed to this mainly for relational purposes knowing that I had an intense fear of heights but hoping I would be able to press through. All went well until we reached the most vertical peak; high anxiety, sweating, tears caused me to , again, turn around to find a safe place to wait for the climbers who pursued the peak and enjoyed a view that I longed to see. Again, I had missed out!
Last weekend, my son and daughter in law asked Greg and I if we would like to climb The South Sister with them. To my horror I heard my mouth say “yes”! The relational value seemed to have higher impact for me than the memory of the failure of past attempts to reach the top. As the days approached I felt anxiety settling in.
THIS TIME THE HIKE WOULD BE DIFFERENT!
It was early in the morning as we set out to climb the ridge that would take us to the steepest portion of the hike. Greg led the way with Azlan following along behind him. They both have long sturdy legs so it was natural for them to lead the way. The part that would make all the difference for me in this attempt to complete this hike successfully was in the assistance that my son Dave intuitively provided. Dave would walk in front of me creating large footprints in which I was able to place my foot and secure myself there. Step after step, mile after mile, on snow, shale, and volcanic rock, he continued this pattern. Dave would check on me but not once made me feel foolish or slow; he offered only encouragement.
Then I reached THAT POINT, the place that I had never pressed beyond and I knew it was at a crossroad. Looking down created emotional anxiety, looking straight up offered no encouragement whatsoever. I felt my heart begin to race, fear attempted to settle in, and yet I desperately wanted to reach the top with my precious family. This time it needed to be different, this time I didn’t want to miss out!! Then the Lord spoke to my heart “just one footprint in front of the other Dianna!, Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the path before you.”
I REACHED THE TOP!! I reached the top and got to experience not only an amazing view but the joy of celebrating with my precious family. I didn’t miss out!!!
As I have pondered this experience God has allowed me to see how this applies to my life. In His word God promises to watch over us, asks us to be anxious for nothing, to trust Him. However, its easy to look at the the challenges we face and to get paralyzed with uncertainty, even fear. God gently encourages us, never causing us to feel shamed, to put our foot firmly into the safe footprint He has provided for us…..one footprint at a time!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
What is your mountain peak? What goal or direction has been thwarted right before you “summit”? Perhaps you need to hike a fresh path~~one footprint at a time! ( and can I just say that it is precious when your child sets an example of Christ in your life~Thank you Dave.)