Life can often be defined by the challenges we seem to encounter on a daily basis.
With a love for adventure, I had already conquered three mountains in Queensland, but, despite rain, wind and pesky mosquitoes, this hadn’t prepared me for the sheer cliff face I now found myself staring directly up at.
The challenge came in the shape, or shall I say height, of Mt Tibrogargan, one of the Glass House Mountains, (Qld).
For a split second the thought Is this even possible? went through my mind. One of my friends had successfully climbed the mountain many times before so I decided to put my self-doubt to the back of my mind and to face this challenge head on. Three of us, rock by rock, inch by inch, slowly scaled our way up the mountain, stopping occasionally to catch our breath and to admire the ever-increasing view.
The feeling when we reached the top was exhilarating! The view that greeted us was absolutely spectacular and the accompanying cool breeze was delightfully refreshing. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and we had to start making our way back down the mountain.
About halfway down at a point called “chicken rock” (so named because this is where most people chicken out and head back down) we met two tourists who had become overwhelmed by what seemed like an impossible challenge. As they had already climbed the hardest section, we encouraged them that the next part was much easier and the view would make the effort completely worthwhile. Whether they ended up continuing to climb I will never know, but, as with so many things in life, you can never anticipate the impact that you have on those around you. All the challenges, fear and uncertainty that we experience in life as we struggle to the top are important life lessons that God uses for our own personal growth, but they also allow us to share these experiences with those around us. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking our story is insignificant, that the challenges we have encountered are of little importance to others. This, however, is a trick of the devil.
Imagine if the Bible didn’t contain the stories of Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in the lion’s den, Peter walking on water or doubting Thomas. God is glorified through these stories as much as He is through our life experiences today if we place Him at the centre.
When we had returned to the car park, I looked back up at the mountain we had just conquered. As I stood there staring at this incredible mountain I realised that life is like climbing a mountain.
Sometimes we want to know how our whole life is going to work out: what career path we will take, whether we will get married, where we will live etc. However, if I had seen how intense and challenging the climb was going to be before I started, the chance that I would have even attempted it is slim. God says He will supply our every need, but how often do we doubt this promise because all we can see are the challenges in the future (Philippians 4:19). So often we are fixated on trying to plan our future, but Jesus encourages us to just focus on the present (Matthew 6:34). What joys of today are we sacrificing by focusing on the future?
Just like my friend—who had climbed the mountain so many times before—supported, encouraged and guided me to the easiest path even when I couldn’t see where to place my feet, Jesus is with us on our daily walk, guiding us through every difficult situation. In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares He has a plan for our life that is for our good. The text goes further to instruct us, in verses 12 and 13 (which are so often forgotten) to call on the Lord, to pray to Him, to seek Him and that through this we will find Him.
When we are faced with challenging situations that test us either physically, mentally or spiritually, God has promised He is able to do more than we could ever ask for (Ephesians 3:20).
As we enter a new year, I challenge you not to look to the end and be overwhelmed with all the challenges, stress, fear, disappointment and uncertainty but to conquer life like all the mountains that you have already climbed. Share your victories, encourage those around you, take a step of faith and see what amazing things God will do in your life if you let Him lead. Once you have reached the summit, don’t forget to enjoy the view and marvel at God’s amazing love for you.
Kathryn Fletcher is a registered nurse from Sydney, NSW. She loves cooking, is an avid reader and enjoys exploring the great outdoors.