A brief illustration I used in my sermon yesterday on Godly endurance was mountain climbing. Practical examples from real life can obviously help illustrate topics of faith!
I mentioned a trip my father and I took this past summer to Washington for some mountaineering in the North Cascades. Our sermon topic definitely reminds me of several things we learned and did during that trip…
“Know before you go”
Before gearing up to climb Mt. Baker, we had an extensive gear check. We unloaded absolutely everything for the guides to inspect and provide guidance. That way, we wouldn’t somehow forget an important item while miles away in the wilderness without cellphone reception.
Many times when facing a challenge in life, we feel ill-equipped. We think to ourselves, “Surely I could have done something to better prepare for this!” It is incredibly valuable to prepare yourself beforehand for adversity. We accomplish that through taking a spiritual “inventory” of our own life! Is there something you are struggling with right now? How might you better equip yourself to overcome it, so it doesn’t further drag you down during a challenging moment in the future?
Depend on Brother and Sisters
For much of the climb, we were “tethered” to one another with climbing ropes and harnesses. That way, if someone fell, they wouldn’t go out of control as others would hopefully stop them with the rope and ice axes. This was incredibly helpful for icy slopes, as well as deep crevasses (dangerous cracks in the ice that can potentially be as deep as a hundred feet in the glacier itself!).
Physical activities are a great example of how important it is to have people you can trust. The same is obviously true for our faith journey. Do you have a handful of people who regularly pray for you? Do you have a few folks you can turn to in a time of crisis, whether that be family or close friends? God created us for community, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ can edify and support us along life’s journey.
Trust Your Tools
I’ve climbed quite often and am always fascinated with the importance and mechanics of proper gear. Carabiners, cord, and rope like these pictured below can actually support and hold thousands of pounds. They might not seem like much, but they are lifesavers during moments of crisis!
Some other examples of “tools” for faith include practices such as reading scripture and an active prayer life. Are you depending on the words of God to get you through tough times? Do you communicate with God throughout both good times and bad? Never underestimate the importance of tools, no matter how “small” they might look on the outside!
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”
All in all, the climb up to the top of Mt. Baker took us about 13 hours. We woke up at 1am to begin and finally came back to camp at around 2pm. Believe it or not, it was about 8.5 miles round-trip to get from our basecamp to the summit. Here was our path over several ridges and glaciers far off in the distance:
It definitely looked like a difficult challenge to begin with. But by taking our time and simply putting one foot in front of the other, we finally made it to the top. We would have become exhausted if we pushed too hard, rather than pacing ourselves.
We could all learn a thing or two from that simple lesson. When you are facing an uphill battle or lengthy journey, simply put one foot in front of the other. Allow God to lead you. Place your trust in Christ and seek his strength.