92949_000_013Before I could conquer the mountain, I had to conquer myself.
The mountain dwarfed us. Standing at the base of the trail staring at Half Dome, one of the most impressive mountains in California’s Yosemite National Park, I felt small and insignificant.
There were 30 of us—city slickers set free from our Los Angeles suburb to spend a week in Yosemite learning about nature. So far, our instructors had confined our study to the valley floor. But today we were going to climb Half Dome.
It looked hard. I’m a wimp when it comes to strenuous physical activity; I avoid exercise like I avoid stinging insects and cleaning up after a ward dinner. But there was no way out. I had to make the climb. No arguments. Case closed.
Lynne, our instructor, started telling us about the mountain, the trail, and the occasional avalanches that had occurred over the years. Lynne promised that we were safe, but we were too scared to chatter much as we passed the site of the most recent slide. It was then I started to pray, asking the Lord to help me get up the mountain and not to become the next avalanche statistic.
We hiked for hours. At last we rounded a bend and came out on top of the majestic peak. The view of the valley was literally breathtaking. I couldn’t believe the change. At the bottom, I had felt like an insignificant speck; now, atop Half Dome, I felt almost invincible.
I looked over the valley floor and saw the place where we had gathered to start the climb. Was I the same person who toyed with the idea of breaking a leg in order to avoid this hike? Something had happened to me during those grueling hours of hiking. I thought of one of David’s psalms: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord. … The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul (Ps. 121:1–2, 7).
From the top of the mountain, I realized that I can look to the Lord for help with anything, and he will preserve me from the evils of the world if I stay close to him.