The blustery, 80 mph winds pounded and haunted my steps as I meandered further down the trail and up the mountain. The thought of dropping my pack and arriving at our glorious campsite filled my physical and mental energies with tenacious fortitude. For every two steps forward, I digressed one step backward. Being slapped around as the wind’s play toy was not what I had in mind for our first hike in the Chilean side of Patagonia. My 50-pound pack shifted back and forth in an awkward dance of defiance and imbalance across my spine. The spirited, icy blue sky glistered with rays of sunshine on the aquamarine glacier composites buoyant in the depths of the lake. As the horizon gave way to a glimmer of hope in the wild that was the gargantuan beauty of the glacier ahead, all felt lost when hopes were dashed to discover we weren’t even halfway to camp: a literal and mental wall slap in the face. The wind 10, Jashley 0.
What happens when you hit a wall when climbing a mountain? Or in the different seasons of life, how do we overcome mountains? Every day, we face mountains of all sorts. Sometimes you are on the dazzling heights of a mountain looking down at everything you’ve traversed through, or the slow, dark valleys that seem so lonely, or you are in the beginning steps of tackling the mountain ahead of you. Wherever you are today, know that there is hope in all circumstances.
We often let circumstances determine our outlook. I’m guilty. I adore hiking, I really do, but obviously there are moments where I am not a happy camper (pun intended). In all hiking circumstances, with almost every step there are oodles of opportunity to complain about something. “Oh, my back is aching, my shins are killing me, my quarter size blisters are annoying the heck out of me, I’m about to divorce this dang backpack, I’m SOOOOO HUNGRY (those who’ve hiked with me know this happens all the time, “Are you hungry?” is the question I always ask looking for empathy), the stress fractures in my feet are pounding, it’s sweltering out here, it’s so frigid I can’t feel my nose, toes, or fingers… “ The list could go on indefinitely.
In our day-to-day lives when facing our daily mountains, we have the opportunity to focus and complain about the negative or praise the positive. In the midst of the hike described in the top paragraph, Grant told me I have a choice to dwell on the circumstances or look to the path ahead. He said, “We’re going to get there either way, you have a choice in your attitude.” Paul, the author of Philippians challenged the church at Philippi in a similar fashion to focus their attentions on:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Do everything without grumbling or complaining. Philippians 2:14
Dwelling on the positive is not easy, the way we’re able to do that is through pursuit of a relationship with Christ and trusting what He says in His Word.
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. Habakkuk 5:18-19
Looking at Christ’s life as an example of what we should do, we see that He pursued His heavenly father by spending time with Him by praying to Him on the mountain, the Mount of Olives.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
Dwelling on the positive and remembering that my Lord and Savior will not abandon me and will help me as I traverse the different terrains of my own struggles helps me to overcome the mountains and valleys laid out before me.
I leave you with these final words from Jesus:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33