I just finished a great book, Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. Krakauer tells his personal account of climbing Mt. Everest in 1996 with other teams from around the world. Unfortunately, it ended in disaster, with 12 climbers loosing their lives. His story is packed with life lessons, leadership nuggets, and truths that cross over into the spiritual life.
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet, rising from the borders of Nepal, Tibet, and China. The challenge of reaching the icy summit attracts experienced climbers who are willing to risk it all to reach the top. They spend days and sleepless nights hunkered into the icy sides of the mountain. The majestic scenes of snow-capped Himalayan mountains, castle-like ice formations glowing in the sunlight, and frozen waterfalls are breath-taking. But with the attractive beauty comes unpredictable danger. Everest often spews violent winds, sleet, snow, lightning storms and hurricanes. Temperatures can drop 100 below zero!
For those who make it up Mount Everest and live to tell about it, they all say you have to keep moving. When the cold sets in the body wants to sit in the frigid temps. The colder the body gets, the blood slows and the body begs for sleep. On Everest, it’s not just sub-zero temps, but also the limited oxygen in the atmospheric air. Most climbers have to carry tanks and respirators to keep the brain healthy and the body energized. Sitting and resting means using up the limited supply of oxygen without making progress. To survive you have to keep time. On Everest, if you run out of oxygen, and then fall asleep you’re toast, or better yet, a popsicle.
We are all climbing an Everest – going after God-sized goals, growing in faith, expanding the work of Christ in the world, building a family, career, or marriage, going after a dream. We are making a summit ascent. It is beautiful at times, but can get down right cold and stormy.
If you’ve hit a stormy, cold stretch don’t sit down and get sleepy. Here’s the key to getting up and over your Everest – you keep on going. Get your eyes off the impossibilities, and focus on taking your next step. When you take that next step there will be strength for another, and another.
Your next step might be a step of prayer, a step to attend church, a step to read the Bible, a step to join a life group, a step to sing during worship, a step to join a service team, a step to call a friend and ask for prayer.
You don’t climb Everest in a day. You climb it one step at a time. When you reach the top you will be glad you didn’t give up.
In Luke 18:1 Jesus said, “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”