Something in a man needs a mountain to climb, a challenge to meet. And what challenge is greater than the ultimate peak, the highest of mountains—Mount Everest? More than three thousand climbers have made it to the top. But, several thousand have failed, and more than 220 have died in the attempt.
One place where they commonly fail is the trek from the South Summit to Hillary Step. Here climbers face a knife-edge ridge made of ice, snow, and fragmented shale—10,000 feet straight down into Tibet on one side, 7,000 feet down into Nepal on the other. The ridge must be crossed with tiny, cautious steps and a good ice ax. Erik Weihenmayer, who made it all the way to the top, knows of the unnerving sound of rock chipping off, plunging into the void.
Erik would have heard this sound more crisply than nearly any other climber, for he was the first blind man to reach the summit of Everest. That isn’t Erik’s only achievement. On August 20, 2008, he reached the top of Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, the tallest mountain in Australasia. This completed his goal of reaching the Seven Summits, a group of imposing peaks, one from each of the world’s seven continents. Totally blind since the age of thirteen, Erik has overcome one mountain-sized challenge after another.
It all started with Alaska’s Mount McKinley. A friend challenged Erik to climb the peak with him. Given Erik’s impediment, the idea seemed crazy. Since the mountain is filled with massive, man-swallowing crevices, climbers who take it on must be tightly fastened to a rope. As Erik recalled later, “Even when the wind was howling and I wouldn’t be able to hear footsteps crunching in front of me, I’d have the direction of the rope to follow.”
I love stories like Erik’s. In my mind’s eye I can see myself on that mountain: the wind howling, icy dust filling my lungs, massive crevasses yawning before me—and I confess that my knees get a little weak. At that point my cozy chair in the family room feels awfully good to me.
But I can’t help but think about the rope. How important is that piece of equipment to mountain climbers? Vitally important. It’s the difference between death and glory. The rope is a lifeline bonding a half-dozen adventurers who must have utter faith in its strength.
The rope is even more important to a blind man such as Erik. All his information comes through his elevated senses of hearing and touch. He and his friends are all tethered to the rope, and he feels the tension of their movement as they climb upward. When someone slips, his hands instantly clutch the line, and through it he knows what is happening and sets himself for danger. The rope is his guide in the midst of a perilous journey, the one thing that will not fail him when he is uncertain of his next step.
The Rope of God’s Love
In one significant way, we are all just as blind as Erik Weihenmayer. We cannot see the future ahead of us any more than he can see his next step. We cannot know what lies five weeks or five minutes or five seconds into the future. Sometimes it may turn out to be a walk in the park, other times a steep ascent across a sheet of ice in howling winds. Either way, we have a rope. God’s love is the unbreakable line that tethers us to truth and to one another, and keeps us on the path as we ascend toward heaven. That rope is our sure and steady lifeline, whether it’s so stormy that we can hardly push ahead or so calm that we tend to wander.
David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).
Good Questions Have Groups Talking
We have just released a new Bible Study based on the book: God Loves You: He Always Has; He Always Will, by David Jeremiah
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
God Loves You, Lesson #1
God Is Love
God Loves You, Lesson #2
God Carved His Love in Stone
God Loves You, Lesson #3
God’s Love for You Never Quits
God Loves You, Lesson #4
God Wrote His Love in Red
God Loves You, Lesson #5
God Loves You Even When You Don’t Love Him
God Loves You, Lesson #6
God Loves You Even When He’s Correcting You
God Loves You, Lesson #7
God’s Love Will Never Let You Go
God Loves You, Lesson #8
God Loves You and Wants You to Live with Him Forever
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.