Five years ago I attempted to climb a 3,165 foot mountain. Five years ago, I also gave up before making it even close to the top, packed my bags and went home.Yesterday, I climbed that same mountain and I made it to the top in an hour and a half. When I finally reached the top and looked around and all I could think was “How did I do that?!”
I was overwhelmed by the contrast between my two experiences climbing this monster…I mean mountain. How could I have accomplished something that my “five-years-ago self” thought was impossible?
“Behold, I make all things new”, says the Lord.
I think back at the person that I was when I first attempted to climb this mountain.
I look at the person that I am today. New. I am new. I am different. I am changed.
Both attempts I wanted to quit. Both times I was challenged beyond what I thought I was capable of. But how I dealt with the challenge was what was made new. What was different. What was changed.
About two years ago I learned the most important lesson of my life. And if you’ve spent any amount of time with me recently you’ve probably heard this come out of my mouth at least once (#sorrynotsorry). This life-changing lesson is that pain and suffering leads to joy. The “old me” used to think that pain and suffering leads to…well actually I just ran the hell away from pain…so I guess I never really thought about what it leads to. But two years ago I was in a situation where I really couldn’t run from the pain and suffering anymore, and I had to deal with it head on. What I found was that enduring pain instead of running from it was actually way different than I expected. Instead of leaving me in despair and discomfort, it left me with a sense of accomplishment, freedom, fulfillment and joy. Without pain and suffering would have never experienced those mountaintop experiences. I think I'll call it "Mountaintop suffering."
Let’s face it. Our lives are full of really tough mountains to climb. We can either run from them, or conquer them. My gut in the “new me” is telling me to conquer them, and so far that gut hasn't failed me. So let’s do it!
The 3 steps to climb the mountain of suffering
1. Every time you want to give up, just take one more step. Then you’ll never give up.
There were about 856 times yesterday that even the new me was telling me to throw in the towel and give up. I kept thinking things like, “just take another break”, “no one will mind if you take your time”, “this is high enough, no need to go all the way, I’ll just meet everyone back at the bottom.” Don’t listen to these discouraging thoughts. Take another step, and always keep going. Especially when it hurts the most. The more it hurts, the greater the reward.
2.Never climb alone
We ran into this guy on the mountain yesterday who really seemed to know what he was doing when it came to climbing. He said that he climbs often, was in the military, and even takes the toughest routes to the top - for fun! After some small talk, we all continued climbing, he quickly moved way ahead of us but then about 20 minutes later…we found him sitting on a rock with a busted ankle. He was alone and stranded with a pretty bad injury. If he had gone with someone he probably wouldn’t have been in such a sucky situation because he would have been thinking about someone else's climb too. No matter how experienced we may be, when it comes to pain and suffering we can’t go through it alone. Know that you are not the only one struggling to climb your mountain. There is always someone out there going through what you're going through, you just have to rely on each other to get through. (Look up Matthew 28:20).
3. Enjoy the view!You can’t enjoy the view unless you’ve made it to the top. Sure, you can get glimpses of it by creeping on others’ pictures of their mountaintop experiences…but it is SO much better when you experience it for yourself! You can look at others’ lives and envy their joy, peace, and exhilaration all you want. But nothing beats feeling that for yourself. Go for it. Make a move and bust through that pain my friends. Let me know how that works out for you. (Look up 1 Corinthians 10:13). God never gives you anything you can't handle. He's the one who created the mountain - He'll get you to the top.