Life on the Edge…(Chapter 24 – On Top of the World)

When I made it to the top, I was immediately welcomed by a fellow member of Team Half Dome. He thought I had turned back and was thrilled to see that I’d made it.

Gretchen was next to come up, followed by Andy, Bre and Mike. Gretchen’s husband was waiting and we all cheered when she came up. I was so proud of her. Like me, she overcame her fears and dared to do the impossible.

No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.
Matthew 19:26 (The Message)

Walking on the summit of Half Dome, which stood 8800 feet above sea level, was like walking on the moon.

I had never walked on the moon before, but I could just imagine the moon’s surface looking a lot like what I was standing on. The surface was a lot bigger than it looked from afar. It was probably the size of about 3-4 football fields.

We met up with Ms. Rosemarie and the rest of Team Half Dome, but most were ready to head back down. I had surprised everyone. They were certain I had turned back. I can’t say I blamed them for thinking that. They just didn’t know me very well.

Since Andy was our driver, he said that we would stay at the summit longer to give us all a chance to take it all in and enjoy the euphoria of the moment. I saw little Katelyn and her family and they were excited to see me there as well.

I took a few moments to explore the surroundings, then I did the unthinkable. I went to the edge and guess what? No fear of heights. I laid down flat on my stomach and peered over the edge. I held out my camera and took a picture of the valley floor below. I guess it didn’t dawn on me that I was hanging over the edge of a 4800 foot sheer drop.

I backed away from the edge, got to a seated position, and carefully scooted over to where my legs could dangle freely. Andy came up and asked if I wanted my picture taken. “Sure,” I said. He stood behind me and I smiled up at the camera. I told Andy I wasn’t scared and he said that he was because of the vantage point where he was standing.

My risk taking didn’t stop there. I went and stood on the Visor and had Andy take my picture there, too. I had said that I would never, under any circumstance, go on the Visor. If you’re not familiar with Half Dome, the Visor is this rock ledge that juts out over the sheer drop. Walking onto it is like walking the plank. However, I wasn’t scared. I was free of the fear of heights and it felt so good.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
John 8:36 (New King James Version)

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 17)

The turning point came when I met up with 13-year-old Katelyn and her family. Katelyn was with her parents and grandmother. They were doing the hike to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday. Katelyn had done the hike before with her parents and she was bubbling with energy and excitement.

For a while, I traded places along the trail with Katelyn and her peeps. When they stopped for a rest, I passed them, and vice versa. I walked with them for a while and learned that they were from Sacramento. I let them walk ahead of me as I had to stop for yet another break to catch my breath.

Just before I reached the vista point, I spoke with a woman on the trail that was resting with her crew. I told her how exhausted I was and that I didn’t think I could make it any further.

You’ve already completed about 90% of the hike. You’ve come too far to turn back now.

Come too far to turn back now. Those words echoed in my head. What a shame it would have been for me to turn back then. I had fought through so much to get to where I was. The thought of turning back was unfathomable.

I was so grateful for the words of encouragement that came my way when I was feeling at my lowest and about to give up. It was like being caught in the middle of a battle. First, the negative thoughts attacked. Then, positive words of affirmation and life were spoken to me to combat those thoughts and send them packing.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:4-5 (New King James Version)

I never fully grasped the true meaning of that scripture until after the hike. At the time I wrote the outline for this essay, I recorded all the thoughts I had along the journey, both negative and positive. It was then that I was able to see in writing the beauty of the situation. It was like catching those negative thoughts and putting them into a box, then filling that box up with positive words and affirmations until all the negative thoughts spilled out of the box and were replaced with the positive ones.

That is how you bring thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ! Once I grasped this principle, I began arresting my negative thoughts on a daily basis.

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 15)

I went further up the switchbacks and then out of nowhere:

There’s always next year. I can start conditioning myself now to prepare and by then I will be more than ready. After all, Half Dome isn’t going anywhere. I can just sit on this stump and wait. The others have to come back this way. I can meet them when they return.

The voice of reason can sometimes be detrimental to your success. There are times when it’s necessary, but there are also times when you have to ignore it. This was one such time.

I thought of other moments in my life when I heard some of these same thoughts, reasoning and excuses. I hear them every day, and sometimes, they make me feel discouraged and want to quit on everything that God has created me to do because it hurts, is out of my comfort zone, and looks like it’s never going to happen.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated that I begin to think maybe this isn’t what God wants me to do after all. If He wanted me to do this, it shouldn’t be this hard. I feel like I’m going to faint out here and die in this wilderness season of drought.

I felt like I was going to faint and die on the trail to Half Dome, then I realized something very important, which turned out to be one of the keys to finishing.

I was hiking through a heavily wooded area going up an endless set of brutal switchbacks. Then, I suddenly had an epiphany. I was hiking through the woods and the goal was hidden from view because of the tall trees in the forest. I was tempted to give up because I had no vision and that vision was linked to my hope of making it to the end.

The illusion was that I was getting nowhere and that all my effort was never going to pay off. However, the presence of trees obscuring my view did not mean the absence of the goal or that progress toward the goal had ceased.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Proverbs 29:18 (King James Version)

I couldn’t see the goal with my natural eyes, so I had to visualize the goal internally and focus on that image in order to keep myself going.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 (New King James Version)

While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (New King James Version)

Life on the Edge…(Chapter 9)

After I shared my story with Lynn, she suggested that I do something that had already been revealed to me through prayer. She suggested that I find some stones and let those stones represent things that I wanted to leave behind once and for all, and leave them at the top of Half Dome to serve as a memorial.

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
Joshua 4:4-7 (New King James Version)

Just a few weeks before I left for Yosemite, I opened up the flap on a messenger bag that I rarely used. I noticed the flap was a bit heavy and that something solid was weighing it down. There was a zipper pocket on the outside of the flap, which could be used for pens, pencils, etc. I opened the zipper to see what was inside and that’s when I discovered the rock I had found more than a decade ago in my parents’ driveway.

I was shocked to see that I still had that rock and that I was completely unaware of having carried it around for so long. I knew that the rock would be the perfect memorial because, like the comment spoken by my classmate, that rock was something that I had held onto that weighed something down. It was time for me to get rid of that rock and evict that poisonous comment out of my heart and mind once and for all.