After we crossed a creek and took a short break, I sat on a rock, completely helpless.
Although I enjoy trekking and have climbed a few mountains, there was one particular summit I had wanted to climb since I was a child.
Pathfinder leaders usually organize a trip to that place, and it’s often used to complete some of the requirements for the Master Guide investiture.
Several months ago we went with a group of friends from church. They had been training and started climbing effortlessly, but I wasn’t in good shape and carried extra weight in my backpack.
I had known about the challenges of climbing and the importance of being well trained. But there I was, disregarding the advice and suffering the consequences. (Has that ever happened to you?) I struggled, breathing more and more heavily with each step I took. All my muscles were sore. The physical and mental efforts took their toll on me, and I thought about how all this applied to my current spiritual life.
As we hiked past some caves and saw the hills along the road, I tried to distract myself by thinking about biblical characters and their stories.
We finally reached the top.
We imagined that the upward trek had been hard enough, but the harder part was getting down. My friends had been better prepared, so they faced that stretch with less difficulty. My right knee, however, had a different story to tell. I must have injured it during the climb, and felt excruciating pain. Yet I stubbornly kept on walking, saying, “I’m fine.”
But there came a moment that I couldn’t hide the pain anymore, and my friends distributed the contents of my backpack among themselves so that I could travel light, get my knee bandaged, and lessen the pain. I limped for 10 kilometers (six miles) and had to swallow my wounded pride.
After we crossed a creek and took a short break, I sat on a rock, completely helpless. I felt I was a burden to the group, and I was struggling with guilt.
Before starting this trip, I had prayed to have a special encounter with God so that He would heal me from some emotional pain that I had struggled with over the past months, and also show me areas in my life in which I needed to grow in grace.
I realized the list was longer than I had expected, but the lessons learned were filled with love.
As we were descending the steep slopes, my friends took turns to help me take each step. They were literally holding my hand so that I would not fall. I was reminded of the hymn “Hold Thou My Hand!” and I felt comforted by the thought that Jesus was walking beside me and using my friends as instruments to answer my prayers. My attitude changed after I looked at things from that perspective.
I sometimes struggle with shame, and feel as though I must always show the polished version of my Christian life, based on my mistaken concept of perfection (which often differs from that of the Bible). My friends helped me understand that it’s OK to show vulnerabilities and accept that we cannot do everything ourselves. What matters most is not whether we are dependable or not, but that we never forget God is, and that He enables us to “make it to the end.”
This adaptation of 2 Corinthians 12:9 summarized the trip well for me: His grace was sufficient once again, because His power was made perfect in my weakness.