Monday, February 21, 2011

Up & Down the Mountain... Lessons learnt in under 12 hours!

The journey of being a Christ follower seems to . contain many a paradox. Often times you feel scared, but you’re unafraid. You feel inadequate, yet you have all you need. You are alone, yet He is always with you. You feel weak…yet HE is strong. You feel lost, but you’re found…it gets kinda confusing at times.

As many of you are aware, I have been on an exciting journey of discovery – and it’s not over by a long shot! When I go through times of ‘trial’ or whatever you would like to call it, I tend to reflect a lot… I tend to journal a lot (as well as drive those around me up the wall…a lot!), but during these times I am so aware that God is working in the unseen areas of our lives and hearts.

I am a person who loves to dream about the future – of what is yet to come. I long to see more of God personally, corporately…Somehow the words of the song “Consuming Fire” by Tim Hughes echo in my heart: “There must be more than this…” Yes, there’s got to be more than this…more than the present…a better future – a longing to see God do something that will ‘blow your mind’! A new reality…a life filled with purpose…God’s purpose. No settling for the here and now, but preparing and looking for what is yet to come! Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you touch it? The best is yet to come…or is it?

In April 2010 I had the privilege of climbing Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg with friends. What an amazing opportunity. A much needed break – away from the hustle and bustle – out there in nature, doing something I have never done before – with some really cool people!

Everyone that went on the weekend were able to leave early on the Friday, so by the time Bevan and I arrived at camp, everything was set up except one or two little things. The campsite was prepared ahead of our arrival, we just had to arrive…what more would you want!?!

Hike Day: 5:30am…

We were up and ready to climb. We were given strict instructions to make sure that we had all our equipment ready the previous night as there would not be time to find stuff in the morning – we all followed this information, and were on our way up the mountain by 6:30am.

A few minutes into the hike, we crossed a river – really cool...not too difficult, and then we started a gradual climb in altitude. Rob, our hike leader had set the pace early on as we needed to get to the summit at a certain time in order to get back to base camp at the right time. All we had to do was keep up… While hiking up and up the mountain I found that my thighs really started to ache, but just as it was getting too much, we would stop and admire the view…breathtaking. A quick swig at the water bottle and we were on our way again.

A while later, my ankle started hurting…badly. I had injured it 2 weeks prior to the hike, but now the pain came back. I decided not to tell anyone about it but ‘suck it up’. I was going to climb this mountain no matter what! But as we went along, the pain worsened. I found myself arguing with God, telling him that I have been looking forward to this so much and that this ankle of mine is really “tikking me off”… I wasn’t enjoying the hike because I was so focused on the pain. Now this is where things get interesting…

In my ‘convo’ with God …I said (in my head)…”Lord, you are the healer…I can’t fix this ankle…but you can – and so in Jesus name, please heal my ankle!” I must confess…I’m ashamed to admit, my expectation was close to zero, but then the strangest thing happened… about 5minutes later, the pain had totally disappeared!

I wish I could say I immediately believed that God had healed me, but I did not..I kept deliberately ‘twisting’ my ankle from side to side to ‘find’ the pain…but it wasn’t there! You’ve heard that scripture…”faith like a mustard seed”…well I believe I had less than that and God did what only HE could do! I was healed! Silly little ankle taught me that I serve a pretty awesome God that’s interested in the detail of my life!

The trip continued, and as we got closer to the summit, the beauty of our surroundings could not be captured by any camera or well put together sentence. It was simply breathtaking…and yes…I needed to catch a breath too! The summit was still far away, but the beauty and enjoyment in the moment was awesome! The best was still to come, yet we experienced each moment of the climb…the highs and the lows.

Just before we got to the base of our final climb up to the summit, there is a gully that’s LONG and STEEP! This is where I struggled most! My legs were aching…I could only muster enough power to take 4 or 5 steps at a time…and then a deep breath. It was everyone for himself in that gully…you just had to focus on the next few steps and make sure you got to the top! There wasn’t much looking around in that gully, but just putting your head down and taking those steps! But man! The view when we got to the top of that gully was spectacular! The word to sum up the moment…MAJESTIC!

A look around, a top up on ‘fuel’ (and emptying for some), we were heading for the summit! This was a steep climb – scary in parts, but every view from up there magnificent… Somehow I enjoyed this part of the climb the most – we were nearly at the top, we were really gaining some serious altitude… I thought to myself...:”can life get any better than this!?!”

About half an hour to three quarters of an hour later, we were at the top. We had made it…and then we had food!!! OH yes please! As you can imagine, this was documented in the form of taking a photo that we were up there, and also by the gang at camp flashing a mirror at us while we were standing on the summit (you have to try this – it’s amazing to see).

Then as the saying goes “what goes up, must come down”, and boy it wasn’t easy! The impact on your toes and knees was not cool, but I was of good sheer – we conquered…and I knew that we were going to rest well that night! All the way down we were joking, laughing, & chatting away… And eventually we met everyone at the hotel again at 4:30pm for sundowners. A great way to end a great day!

But here is what I learned…

1) When you walk with God, you don’t walk alone.

When you climb the mountain, you’re not only climbing with God, but you do it in community as well! People who are climbing the same mountain WITH you! People who keep you accountable, people who encourage, support and care. Every person still has to climb the mountain for themselves, but in community it makes it so much more fun and exciting – and when it gets tough, you’re supported!

2) When you walk with God, He will surprise you!

Just when you think you have things figured out (as I thought in terms with my ankle), God shows up and blows your views out of the park. He will prove himself to be faithful in your life – even if you don’t believe it! Isn’t that awesome!?!

3) When you walk with God – enjoy the moment!

Sometimes we want to rush things... we want to achieve the vision and call God has placed on your heart! You want to get to the top of the mountain! However, the journey of getting to the top is half the fun and enjoyment! If I had to rush the experience of going up the mountain, I would have missed out a significant amount of what made the hike so awesome! Take time – keep the pace, but enjoy the process God has laid out for you!

4) When you walk with God, be courageous and take a risk, do something different and have FUN!

As we were going up the mountain, I was fully aware of the RISK involved. The reality is that if we had mis-stepped close to the summit, we could have injured ourselves seriously! However, we knew the view at the top was worth it! The risk was real, but we took it and it paid off – and it was WOW!!! On the way down, I thought about what God had done in me on various level – and it was SIGNIFICANT...and lastly IT WAS SOOO MUCH FUN!

When you walk with God, there are no guarantees of a ‘smooth journey’, but then again a smooth journey is rather boring!


Love Ockie