October 4, 2012

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been since August—I’ve been helping my mother move! And now I’m getting back up to speed on what’s happening in our national parks…

I recently read an article in The New York Times about a professional rock climber who scaled Yosemite National Park’s three biggest rock faces in succession, alone, and in less than 24 hours.

My first thought was, there are people who are professional rock climbers? Second: Is he nuts? Third: Just the idea of it gives me the willies.

Seriously though, this task is called the triple, and Alex Honnold’s quest involved going straight up Mount Watkins, El Capitan and Half Dome, which total about 7,000 vertical feet.

But here’s the unbelievably scary part: Except for 500 feet, he ascended with no ropes or safety equipment.

“There is nothing in sports that compares to this,” says climber John Long in the article. “The physical exertion alone is amazing.” Most people need several days to tackle even one of those rock walls, and only a handful of climbers—at most—are capable of doing it in one day.

The reporter who observed Honnold complete the feat said watching was both “terrifying and impressive.” He also noted the comments of a nearby hiker: “Dude, are you serious! I can’t look.”

My feelings exactly…(if your stomach can take it, check out the piece on him from 60 Minutes).

The reason this story stuck in my head—aside from the fact that it’s about the national parks—is that we had sung the hymn “Higher Ground” in church the previous week. The second verse had really caught my attention:

My heart has no desire to stay

Where doubts arise and fears dismay;

Though some may dwell where these abound,

My prayer, my aim is higher ground.

This year, I’ve been working hard on prayerfully combating the myriad of anxieties that parade along well-worn tracks in my brain on a depressingly regular basis. On the Sunday morning I was re-introduced to this oldie-but-goodie song, I realized all over again that I really, really don’t want to wallow in the lowlands of doubt and fear anymore. Just like Alex Honnold, I’m aiming for higher ground.

Unlike him, though, I don’t have anything to prove by going it alone, nor does God ask or even want me to. My “triple”—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—supply the “everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27) I need for the journey. And when I’m all done, I’m headed even higher, to my forever home.

What “rock walls” are you facing? What’s keeping you in the valley instead of looking—and going—up? The trek may be terrifying at times, and the world might call you crazy, but the rewards from God are great (Hebrews 11:6).

As for the national parks, well, I’ll just stick to the trails, thank you very much…

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