In 2006 we took a group of students on Wilderness Trek. Over all it was a great experience. However, for me, it was the most difficult year on Trek I had experienced. This was the 6th Trek I had been on, three of the previous five we had made it to the summit. If you have experience in climbing you know it is not always a certainty you will get to the summit. The weather can change dramatically, in a matter of minutes and the last thing you want is to be above the tree line when a lighting storm roles in.
For me, this Trek was different, because I was by far in the worst shape of my life. Four of the previous five Treks’ I had been on were when I was still a college athlete. By this time I had kind of let myself go. I was pushing 260. It was a very difficult climb to say the least. I remember at different times on the journey wandering if I would actually make it to the top. The trip was beautiful, I am sure, but I didn’t see it. We were walking through the forest, and next to the trail there was a babbling brook running down the mountain. As you make it to the tree line your eyes are opened to the incredible, wide open, grassy fields. Then as you near the summit, hopping from bolder to bolder, checking the footing on each step of the climb to make sure the rock you are stepping onto will support your weight and is securely in place. To turn and look back to see just how far you have come. It is truly an amazing experience. But, on this Trek I missed all of it.
Like I said, this climb was different, with the beauty of nature all around me, all I could focus on was me. I was hurting, I was out of breath, my legs were cramping, I was so hungry. All I could think about as I would look up at the summit was how incredibly far I still had to go. There is no way I can make it, I would say to myself. For the first time in my life I really wanted to give up on something. I didn’t though; I kept going and people kept encouraging me and eventually I (we) made it to the top.
Once at the pinnacle I laid down exhausted, staring up into the beautiful, clear, blue sky, I took a moment to catch my breath. Then, I sat up and I was completely taken back by the incredible view. Why? I had done this before. This was the fourth mountain I had made it to the summit of. Why did it take so long to realize what was all around me? I had been on this mountain for the past 3 days, how had I missed it. Easy, on the climb, my only focus was on me and how badly I was hurting. I never lifted my head and looked to see how far I had come; all I could see was how far I still had to go. I never lifted my head to see all the others on the journey with me.
So what happened over the course of several hundred feet? My perspective changed. The view from the top has a way of putting your life in perspective. You can see for miles and miles. I was struck with a sense that this world is bigger than just me and my problems. Only an hour before my only focus was me and my difficulties. Now my eyes were opened to a whole new world. There is a great danger when we begin to think OUR WORLD is THE WOLRD. Sometimes in life we need to step back, slow down and change our perspective. Just maybe, the change in perspective will change the way we pray.
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. NIV John 4:35