Life on the Edge…(Chapter 16)

Despite the way I felt and how my body screamed at me for pushing it beyond its limits, I told myself that I could and would make it, no matter the cost. I was willing to lay everything down, including my pride, to do what God put in my heart to do. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a ram waiting in the bush, so to speak.

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
Genesis 22:2, 12-17

I began to encounter “angels” on the path. Random people came along offering encouragement.

You’ve got just a little bit farther to go. You can do it.

Keep going. You’re doing great.

Just keep going and you’ll reach a vista point just before Sub Dome where there are some spectacular views. You’ve at least got to make it that far. It will be so worth it.

I’m all about spectacular views and my camera was ready to take hundreds more pictures. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d turned back before getting to that vista point. I decided I had to at least get to that place, however far it was.

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 11)

It took a while for the caffeine in the Gu drops to take effect. By the time I got a fourth of the way up the steps, I wanted to curse. That’s how brutal the steps were to my already aching body. I had to start singing. I remembered singing in the choir at Lakewood Church in Houston when we sang worship songs on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights at choir practice. I pictured myself standing in the choir loft with my beautiful brothers and sisters, my hands lifted high, praising and worshiping God. Whenever I felt that curse word coming on:

“Glorify your name, glorify your name, glorify the name above all names.”

And one of my favorites:

“Sing over me songs of deliverance. Lord, cover me with your mighty hand. Sing over me, God of the second chance. Sing over me once again.”

The next phase of the journey took us through Little Yosemite Valley, a virtually flat place where the trail is laden with beach sand, which is somewhat difficult to hike through.  Our group reassembled at a rest spot and then we headed further up the trail.  At this point, we were beginning to gain altitude, and by the time we reached the switchbacks coming up out of the Valley, I felt it big time.

My initial perception of this part of the hike was that it was going to be fairly easy.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This was the part where I encountered hell and some awful thoughts began churning in my head.

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.