I crouched down and placed my hand on the moss covered boulder. Inwardly I imagined a mother figure saying,
“Go slow. Take your time. Don’t hurry or you could slip.”
She sounded a lot like me.
I gripped onto the nearest tree trunk for support as I took another step higher.
With sweat pouring down my face and coming out of every gland I own, I looked at the trail ahead. This particular stairway to heaven was covered with slippery mud covered stones, and the people walking past us who had conquered the mountain were dirty from head to toe. Most of them looked exhausted, yet oddly, they were all smiling. I could see that this was not for those who wanted to keep their whites clean. This was for the rugged adventurist with good knees and expansive lungs.
Everything of mine was burning.
Once past the rocks, the next part became a twisted gnarled maze of tree roots that let me know they were here on earth long before I was. The challenge was to carefully plant the foot not to trip and fall headlong over the edge and into the jungle. There was no barrier between the walker and an unexpected airborne experience into heavily wooded territory.
We came upon a small waterfall which made me think this was worth the exertion until we continued past it. More steep uphill fighting against gravity that worked relentlessly against me. A little more further, and we were overlooking a grand view of the beach below. Stopping long enough to catch my breath, I snapped a few pictures just so I could look back and appreciate it later.
My knees and hamstrings were yelling for me to take the nearest escalator back to level ground.
We pushed on more until we all agreed that we would rather be cooling off in the ocean. Two young boys came by.
“How far did you two go?” I asked.
“Oh, we went the entire eleven miles. There is a beach up at the top so we did that.”
They looked unwinded and fresh like they had just rolled out of bed.
I was a panting, hunched over mess.
“Is it very far to the bottom?” one of them asked.
“No. You only have about a half mile to go.”
We let them pass us as we made our descent. I continued to be mindful of where I put my feet. If going up was stressful, coming down was even more so. My right knee, that I had sustained an injury in years ago, began to freeze up. It decided to rebel and not bend without tightness and a horrible pain.
Squatting down and hanging on to whatever nature was providing as stability for the moment, I silently sent up an S.O.S to the heavens just to get me back safely. I felt weak, unable to go further, and I realized I was trying to accomplish this all on my own.
A phrase floated into my mind that brought relief.
“He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” (Psalm 18:33)
The pain lessened, and I was able to reach the end of the trail without a scratch or mishap. I didn’t care at that moment whether it was an angel who flew me down or an invisible hand holding onto me, but I felt the tangible presence of help. Instead of struggling to reach a goal, I felt an unseen partner come in an assist me. Don’t let your pride or fear stop you from praying for help. God isn’t preoccupied helping someone else more worthy. Ask and expect assistance. It can make all the difference to an uncomfortable situation to help you keep on climbing.