I never heard the term “fourteener” until I moved out to Colorado. When you grow up in the Midwest, you don’t think too much about these towering mountains. Even after moving to Colorado, it took me a few years to work up the nerve to hike up to the top of one of these monstrous hills. However, a charity hike up a mountain finally gave me the framework I needed to decide to tackle this challenge.
My first ascent was to the top of the highest fourteener in Colorado: Mt. Elbert. Go big or go home, right? Now, before I dig in too far, I don’t want you thinking I’m some amazing athlete here. I got my moment of glory at the top of the mountain, but it was quite the ordeal to get there.
When you’re hiking a mountain this high, it takes most people between 6-9 hours of steady hiking to get up and back down. Hiking a fourteener in Colorado also involves going up through a thick forest until you hit something called the tree line. This is the elevation where trees no longer grow and it becomes more rocky and full of boulders. This is also the point where the mountain tends to feel, at least, like it’s going up faster than you can keep up with it. Oh, and by the way, the air gets noticeably thinner too.
By this time of the hike up Mt. Elbert, I had no idea what I was in for. So when we hit the ascent past the tree line, I was surprised to note that I could physically feel the lack of oxygen. I couldn’t take a breath deep enough to move forward. My legs were also jelly from hiking up for hours already and we still had a long way to go. It was here that I developed what I liked to call the ’Twenty-Five Method.’
The ‘Twenty-Five Method’ involves counting twenty-five steps in my head and then stopping, catching a few deep breaths and a few swigs of water, glancing ahead to a rock that I guess to be about twenty-five steps away and then repeating this process. The last mile of the mountain was conquered with this sophisticated method. It was not glamorous, brag-worthy, or even athletic, but I made it up.
I’ve made it up two other fourteeners since then, each time using the ’Twenty-Five Method. Each set of twenty-five small steps were often painful, labored, and just as much a mental challenge as they a were physical challenge.
Most times in life, we follow the ’Twenty-Five Method’ as well. We’re doing everything we can to get one step more to make it through and finish strong. Sometimes we’re enjoying the steps and feeling good about the process, and sometimes we’re barely catching our breath. Just like my steps up the mountain, it can be just as much a mental challenge in life as it is physical.
If you’ve ever hiked a mountain before, you know the feeling when you reach the very top. All that hard work has paid off and you’re rewarded with views that go on for days. I’ll be honest, when I reached the top of Mt. Elbert, I was pretty stoked. It’s amazing to realize that the hours of hiking you just did, and the thousands of steps, and the blisters on your feet, all equated to reaching the summit.
Thousands of little steps.
In my case, they were teensy, tiny steps. Remember my sophisticated method? I wish I could say I was making huge strides, but they were often twenty-five small steps before I’d stop and wheeze a little bit. But as non-glamorous as I looked shuffling up that path, a bunch of little steps got my body up a mountain. And, a bunch of tiny steps each day get me closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for me.
We all take tiny steps each day in our homes, jobs, families, friendships, and even in the encounters at the checkout line. These moments are often not glamorous, Instagram-worthy, or something we probably give much thought to. These are the moments, though, that get up our own mountains in life. Be faithful in these moments.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Be encouraged that wherever you’re taking your twenty-five steps today, God is walking right with you. Not only that, your thousands of little steps put together are getting you to your epic destination with God. He’s got a purpose for your life and as you are faithful in taking the little steps, however painful or mundane or silly they feel, they are part of your purpose.
One of the tricks to hiking (and frankly, a normal day) is to keep eating regularly so that you fuel your body to keep going. I discovered this simple recipe for homemade granola/power bars. The recipe explains them as energy “balls,” but I like to form them into a bar shape and put one in a small sandwich bag. Freeze them and pull them out whenever you need one. They’re great to take on the go!
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong
Father, may we walk faithfully today whether the steps are easy or hard. May we keep moving with trusting faith that you know the ultimate plan for us, even if we can’t see yet. May we trust you with every step we take today.
Make a list of the things you are taking steps in today. What are the hard steps to take today? What are the easier steps? Now list out who may benefit from your faithful obedience in taking these steps. How are you fitting into God’s bigger plan?
Contact: Valerie Morris www.simplelifevibes.com