Climbing Towards His Blessings

By Alicia Carlton

Photo by Dreamstime
 
When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to climb a mountain. I presented the plan to my family and managed to convince them of the great opportunity that I was sure awaited! My parents discussed the idea and invited my cousins to come with us. We chose Mount Saint Helens which is located in Southeastern Washington. The mountain is 8,363 feet and is not a technical climb that requires ropes and special climbing gear.
 
Over the next few weeks my family planned and prepared for the hike, which is 12 miles roundtrip. The living room turned into a giant storage area with an ever growing pile of hiking shoes and backpacks with a few granola bars thrown around. I packed my own little backpack and filled it with "essentials:" ChapStick, a chocolate bar, a small hairbrush and an extra jacket. As the weeks before our trip turned into days, my excitement grew. I was going to climb a mountain!
 
It was the middle of June when the day finally arrived. The main trail was still blocked with snow, so we had to start on a trail farther down the mountain. I remember taking those first steps early in the morning thinking, This is incredible; I can’t wait for the amazing pictures I’ll get when we reach the top.
 
The next few hours went by uneventfully as we simply put one foot in front of the other, stopping for occasional breathers. But the elevation continued to increase, and at 4,800 feet, my lungs screamed for air. I began to question my plan. My feet ached as I scrambled to maintain my balance on the narrow trail. Blisters formed as the sides of my hiking shoes tore into my ankles. My legs burned from the continuous muscle tension, and my shoulders were rubbed raw from the backpack full of essential "survival tools" that did not seem so essential anymore.
 
By this time we had passed the tree line and were hiking straight up in knee-deep snow. The reflection off the snow made my eyes burn and the sun scorched my fair skin until it turned purple. The higher up we climbed, the farther away the top seemed. My excitement faded and was replaced with exhaustion.
 
Halfway through the day we were 5,600 feet up the mountain and my parents decided to stop for lunch. We found a ledge and carefully balanced ourselves so that we would not fall back down the way we had come. My stomach grumbled from hunger as I forced my shaky legs to bend so I could sit down. I tend to get angry when I am hungry, and at that moment I was mad. As I sat down to eat my peanut butter sandwich, I muttered angrily under my breath, “What a stupid idea.” The words had barely left my mouth when I turned around and took my eyes off the trail for the first time. The view around me was breathtaking. I could see for miles, and it felt like we were on top of the world. A cloudless blue sky seemed to stare back at me and my tormented mind was put at ease as I took in the beauty of God’s creation.
 
We never did reach the top of the mountain that day. After eating lunch, we hiked for several more hours before my parents decided to turn around 500 feet from the top, so that we could make it back down the mountain before dark. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God spoke to me that day. I now understand that God shows himself in little moments along life’s journey, and we can only reach the top if we take time to enjoy, understand and appreciate the small things in life.