"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited."
~ 2 Corinthians 6: 3
It's another rainy, cloudy day along the Gulf this morning. The live oak tree in our front yard continues to push out last year's leaves as new ones emerge, lining the sidewalk as water carries them down to the street. There is something about this time of year that seems to instill a sense of anticipation for spring, while the calendar and the clouds remind me that it is still February, and whether I like it or not, winter is still present.
It's in times like these that I realize that this experience can also be related to our faith. Mountaintop experiences can only exist when the valley has been encountered. The son of one of my patients is about to make his seventeenth trip to the top of Mount Everest. He serves as a guide and leads those who wish to climb to the top. His mom shared that, "This will be his last year to make the climb."
You can sense the relief in her voice, sharing of a journey that he made six years ago when one of the men collapsed and died along the way after experiencing a blood clot to his lung. "I just worry about him every time."
She continued to explain that it takes "months" to prepare your body for the altitude, and that the person must prepare to be without being able to "catch your breath." She shared how her son remains at a high altitude for "months on end," so that he can be ready to lead without worry of growing weary, or having difficulty with the high altitude. She then smiled and pulled out a book where she shared pictures of every mountaintop accomplishment her son has made in his lifetime.
"I knew that he would want to climb mountains as a young boy," she shared. "Even when we went to the beach, he would build mountains out of sand, and talk of the mountains he would climb one day. We just encouraged him, and now look at what he has done. Of course, leave it to my son to not settle for just any mountain. It was always about Everest."
I paused for a moment as I write this blog this morning and lift a prayer for the woman and her son.
It is the reminder to me that while we may seem to be caught between two seasons, God continues to guide us towards "something." We stare out the window and our mind suddenly begins to wander. For me, I think of what the yard looked like last summer, and I anticipate the flowers and shade of our trees once again. We close our eyes to pray, and we are lead to places that are often surrounded by the intentions of our heart. While we may not be planning to climb Everest, the blessings that God has waiting for us are just as important. Some of them take careful planning and thought. Some are surprise encounters that leave us inspired. While others seem to be a struggle, and we begin to wonder if we will ever "make it."
Anticipation for "what is next," is a hidden, but real part of our soul. We live our entire lives for faith's next step, and while we do, we encounter both valleys and mountaintops. We live through winters waiting on spring, and the day that we finally are met by God as we take our final journey home.
Living life, knowing that all moments are important, is the reminder that God is always present, and holding us in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.