Don't give up now Mum! my son yelled cheerily, as he jumped over me like a mountain goat. I was sitting on a rock, out of breath, perched halfway above the world. It was 1998, and we were climbing Stickle Tarn in Northern England.
The Lake District was one of our favorite places of all time. I can still close my eyes and see the little villages, the cobbled paths, the sheep dotted on the hillsides, our four young sons running ahead of us. I can still smell the rain on the grass and hear the rush of my favorite waterfall as it tumbles over the rocks.
I can do this I kept repeating to myself, as I picked up my backpack and dragged my weary body back on to the hillside path. This was only 1500 feet...a mere 1500 feet my son had said. I looked around at all the other families who were cheerfully climbing this monstrous mountain. They all seemed to be doing fine...in fact, they were all passing me by. It was discouraging. I wished I were somewhere else. I looked up to see how far ahead my sons and my husband were...but they were out of sight.
I contemplated sitting down, and just admiring the view from where I was. Maybe I could just meet the rest of my family on their descent?
But I didn't give up. And as I puffed and panted my way around the last peak, I saw something that truly did take my breath away. Nestled quietly on top of that peak was a little lake, shaped like a tear drop, totally hidden from view to climbers below. Who knew it was there? It was an unbelievably beautiful sight, a true reward after all my hard work. And if I had not climbed, I never would have seen it.
And this is what I try to remember when I am feeling weary in ministry, or wishing that I served somewhere else:
- Don't compare yourself to others, especially when they seem to pass you by.
- It's okay to take a break, as long as you get back on track.
- Never quit. Keep climbing- because you don't know what will be there when you reach the top.