Taking the Mountain That Nearly Killed You

Taking the Mountain That Nearly Killed You

In my early twenties I went to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa at 19,341ft. I was in the best shape of my life and felt super strong. Little did I know what awaited me on that climb – one of the greatest humblings of my life. (I’ve needed quite a few.)

I remember one of our team members expressing his concern about getting to the top. I acted sympathetic, but in secret I actually thought that guy was kind of pathetic. No mountain was too high for me. I was pretty cocky.

Four days in I got Acute Mountain Sickness. I started vomiting and shaking uncontrollably. My head was pounding. The guides warned me my body was shutting down and I had to descend quickly. So two guides hiked with me through the night to a lower altitude, stopping every five minutes to let me dry-heave. There was nothing left in my stomach. I couldn’t hold anything down.

For years I felt like a failure when it came to mountain climbing. Ironically, a few years later God called me to start taking people up mountains. I had to get over some insecurity about it all. I started taking people up mountains. But it always haunted me that I had never completed Kilimanjaro.

Over ten years later I got a second chance at Kilimanjaro. I was thrilled to be hiking it with Bob Goff and a small team. But honestly, I was terrified. I knew that no matter how good of shape I was in, at any moment my body could get altitude sickness and it would be over. I’d fail again.

But I went anyway. And this time I made it to the top.

Here’s what I’ve learned. Sometimes you are going to fail in life. But just because you do, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be brave and try that very same thing again. It may just be that you needed to learn a little humility. God loves humility. In fact, he’ll often call you to encourage and inspire others based on your greatest failures. I think he does that so when we succeed we know it was all him.

If you’ll hang on to the humility you learned and walk into what he asks you to do with serious fear and trembling, you might just find yourself standing on top of the very mountain that was your failure. And believe you me, it will be a very good feeling.

Be brave. Stay humble. Don’t let your past failure keep you from trying again.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10