The feature of our final day in Sri Lanka was one of the hardest hikes that I have ever done! In order to conquer Adam’s Peak, we left at 2:00 am to walk a total of 14 kilometers and go up and come back down 5,200 stairs.
We hiked up in the dark and the rain, unable to see anything more than 10 feet in front of our faces. As we neared the top and I neared the last of my strength, I was starting to get frustrated with my inability to climb farther, faster, whatever. I judged my fitness, my endurance, my mental strength with every rest that I had to take. I felt like I was getting nowhere.
We got to the top in time for the sun to rise, and eagerly awaited the beautiful view. Unfortunately, as the morning got brighter, we realized that, instead of the miles and miles for which we should’ve been able to see, we could see absolutely nothing. The mountaintop was so shrouded in clouds that it looked like we were in a blizzard!
We huddled together in the wet cold, headed into a crowded room for a steaming cup of questionable tea, then started our trek back down. For the first 30 minutes or so on the way down, we could still see very little. I put my iPod on shuffle and kept up a steady pace going down the stairs. And then, as we made our way below the cloud cover, the valley, lakes, and other mountains suddenly became visible. As I stood there, in awe at just how high up we are, the following song played on my phone:
Standing on this mountaintop,
Looking just how far we’ve come,
Knowing that for every step,
God was with us.
I was so struck by this incredible imagery that God provided in that moment!
On the way up the mountain, I was stuck worrying about my own weakness. I was so frustrated by my own lack of ability that I failed to realize the beauty, the trial, the opportunity to grow that were a part of the journey. When I got to my destination, it wasn’t what I had expected. Because of everything clouding my vision, I was unable to see just how far I had come.
But as the clouds cleared, and as I saw the hike for what it really was, I could see the path – the struggle – for what it really was, too. And I was so glad that I had done it!
This physical experience represents so many things that we go through in life. Situations that are harder, longer, more taxing than any hike I will ever take. But, I was so encouraged by the revealing of my handicapped perspective, my inability along the way to realize the magnitude of the situation. It didn’t make the hike any less difficult, but it did remind me that struggle is not bad, that it is not synonymous with failure or being less than enough. Getting caught up in my own inability is never going to help a situation. Instead, we must “throw of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” [Hebrews 12:1-2]