“Please don’t let me fall.” This was not a spiritual prayer. It was a physical prayer that I mumbled sincerely nearly 20 times the week leading up to the hike up Pinnacle Mountain and about 75 times as the climb began the following Saturday morning. I had made the hike two times before in my life. Once with a friend and once alone. This time was more stressful than either of those because I was doing it with someone I looked up to as a spiritual brother and leader. I obviously wanted to impress him.
I felt the full 15 pounds I had gained during the covid pandemic. I felt the judgmental gazes of everyone who knew I ‘used’ to be an accomplished personal trainer. The climb began with an awkward explanation for everything that could go wrong. If I fall, it’s because my new shoes don’t fit right. If it looks like I’m melting, it’s because I couldn’t find my sunscreen and had to wear a layer of foundation because it has sunscreen in it. I acknowledged the fanny pack was a little nerdy, but it was useful. I think I was sort of hoping my best friend would decide the public humiliation of being in public with me was too risky and he would change his mind. He didn’t.
We started to hike. I started to sweat. I couldn’t breathe. I insisted that he walk ahead of me so he couldn’t see the mess I was deteriorating into as we continued our climb. Sometimes God gives us what we need and not necessarily what we want. You see, what I had hoped for was a best friend who would wake up early on Saturday morning and say, “Hey, meet me at the buffet.” Instead, God blessed me (and yes, right now that is sarcasm) with a best friend who wanted to meet at the base of Pinnacle Mountain at 7 a.m. for a “quick” hike to the summit. I rolled my eyes but, because I adore him, I complied.
We reached the top after being passed by a few elderly people, an assortment of odd shaped dogs, and several children. None of them appeared to be melting. I again rolled my eyes at the injustice of it all, but I continued, taking his hand when I needed to and resisting the urge to stop mid trail, hop on Facebook, and unfriend him immediately. I envisioned the angels in heaven comparing our hike to our spiritual lives. They would look at him moving up the mountain like a gazelle and say, “look at him go! He’s doing so great!” and then looking at me, sighing, and saying, “aww. She’s trying so hard.” Indeed, I do try.
Finally, we reached the top. It was as gorgeous as I remembered from my two prior climbs. We sat and prayed, and I thanked God for His goodness. I started to reflect on our ascent. It was difficult. I thought about all the different people who had climbed and now shared the summit with us. We had all traveled at different speeds. It was more difficult for some of us than for others. Yet here we were – a variety of people at the top of the mountain. It was beautiful.
God puts people in our lives to challenge and change us. We reach mountains and they encourage us to climb. They even extend their hands for us to grab and hold when we struggle. It seems that I am in a continual state of learning to trust others. It isn’t something that has ever been easy for me. I am grateful that God is blessing me in this season of my life with strong and dependable people. I have climbed mountains with the wrong people, and I have climbed them alone, both have their lessons. But I have learned that the right people won’t let you fall and there is nothing better than sharing the view with someone amazing.