“I don’t think I’m gonna make it,” I panted.
Below us sprawled the Flathead Valley in its pristine summer beauty, seemingly close enough to touch, the houses and trees like playthings from our vantage at 7,000 feet.
But I barely noticed the view. My friend and I were sitting, gasping for breath, on Columbia Mountain on Friday with 30-pound packs – an elevation gain of 4,500 feet in 6 miles – and I was more exhausted than ever in my life. Seriously. This beat even my black belt test.
I don’t know whether it was the altitude, being out of shape, or both, but my arms were going numb, my legs shaking, and a deep pain starting in my chest. The scorching sun beat down (seriously, moon, you couldn’t eclipse three days sooner?); sweat beaded and dripped off our necks. Everything was dust (the trees having long ago gotten smaller due to altitude).
It had become switchback, switchback, five minute rest, repeat. The summit was in view, but stubbornly refused to grow closer. Was the mountain growing as we hiked?
We’d started without any doubt that we’d eventually summit the mountain (a necessary first step in completing our planned 45-mile route). We were now unsure. Each switchback was an ordeal, looking no different from the next.
Our waits often feel like this.
“A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says — “I cannot stand any more.” God does not heed, He goes on stretching…” – Oswald Chambers
It gets discouraging when week after week, month after month, year after year, seems to get us no closer to some God-promised goal. As Steven Furtick has pointed out, it would have been morale-boosting if the wall of Jericho had crumbled a little with each day the Israelites marched around it. Instead, it stood untouched, while Israel continued to do something about as relevant to wall-demolition as your average tea party.
But…it was obedience.
I didn’t want to turn back. Couldn’t exactly claim the Continental Divide Trail as a long-term goal if we couldn’t even handle this mountain. That was my sole motivation as we forced ourselves to our feet. We gulped water, prayed for strength, staggered around another identical switchback. (Did I mention my left knee was severely acting up?)
…till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
We rounded the last switchback and…unbelievable. There it was. The sign indicating the summit. Out of nowhere, at the end of a switchback looking just like the rest, was our goal. We’d done it.
That’s how a lot of things go. We’ll be plugging along, the day looking no different than all the rest, and boom – God finally lets fly.
Trust yourself in God’s hands. For what have you need of patience just now?