My Thoughts about Climbing and God
By Dallas Kloke
“I would hate to get to the end of my life and realize I had not lived, that I’d never dared to take a chance to love, to explore, to realize my best. Maybe the greatest risk in life is not to risk.” Tim Hansel, HOLY SWEAT
Risk is a part of life. In the things we do, we take risks; some small, some large. We can risk our health by overeating, smoking, not exercising or taking illegal drugs. We risk our character by our behaviors and actions towards others, like cheating, telling lies and being dishonest. We can risk life or limb by the way we drive, cross the street, or handle a gun. We also take risks by helping a person in a dangerous situation, or standing up for a belief or truth that goes against popular thought. Some things are worth the risk, others are not.
Being a Christian is a risk. Being a rock climber or mountaineer is a risk. I want to compare and contrast these two; both are a part of my life.
The goal of a climber is to reach the summit of a mountain or the top of a wall or route. Some will choose a more difficult and dangerous way to reach their goal. The climber depends upon his knowledge, experience, ability and equipment to reach his goal. In most cases, the climber is dependent upon a partner(s) to help achieve his objective. Eventually, the climber has to come down and return to civilization.
The Christian’s goal is Heaven. In Heaven is God, the Creator of the universe. Heaven is a place for the person who has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. You can’t just do good works to get there. It really doesn’t depend upon other people. It depends on your relationship with Christ. Heaven is for all eternity.
The climber usually has a book to guide him. There are guidebooks for almost every area and type of climbing. The guides are written by a person who has climbed there extensively and has lots of knowledge of the area. The guidebook provides the climber with lots of information including: how to get there, approaches to the peak or routes, difficulty of the climb, gear to take, dangers, and other important information. However, guidebooks will warn the climber that they shouldn’t take everything in the guide as absolute fact or truth. Also, climbing conditions change and humans are prone to errors.
For the Christian, their guidebook is the Bible; God’s inspired Word. The Word of God tells us how we shall live. It tells us how to walk in the LIGHT and not in the darkness. It tells us what is right and what is wrong. It tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Bible has many examples of what sin is, as well as what love, faith, trust and hope is. The Word does not change with time.
The climber will face difficulty and danger; he must protect himself in this world of rock, snow and ice. The climber will depend upon himself as well as his partner(s), his knowledge and experience as well as the equipment he takes with him. The main piece of gear for safety through all of climbing history is the rope. The rope is the safety line that connects partners together. If the leader falls, his partner, the belayer will stop his fall. The climber also carries many other devices to protect him in case of a fall. In the end, the climber depends upon himself, partners and equipment for his safety.
How does the Christian face difficulties and protect himself or herself from the dangers of the world? The Christian is just the opposite of the climber; he or she must depend upon God and his Son, Jesus Christ. People, even partners as well as family and friends will let you down. Equipment will fail. The material things of this world will not satisfy one, whether it be wealth, power, being famous or any physical pleasure. Since you are a fallible human, you will often fail. For the Christian, his safety line is prayer. “Safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of Jesus Christ.”
For some climbers, climbing is their life. It becomes their god. Nothing else seems to be as important. They continually need new routes, new mountains, more challenges, to keep them satisfied. However, climbing does not satisfy the emptiness they truly feel inside their hearts and souls. Whatever first ascents or new routes they established, or the number of climbs they have made, or the difficulty level they’ve attained, in the end it will not satisfy. As Ecclesiastes 2:11 states “…all was vanity and a chase after the wind, with nothing gained under the sun.”
As a Christian, I realize I must keep climbing in the right perspective in relation to my faith, my family, my friends and other important aspects of my life. Climbing does have risk, one can be injured seriously or killed. To walk the long, narrow road of a Christian is a risk. There is a risk of being ridiculed, ostracized and in some places of the world jailed or killed. However, the payoff for this risk is all eternity with God.
I recently read the book, SAVAGE SUMMIT, by Jennifer Jordan. This book tells about the lives and deaths of the first women to climb K2. These women put the 8000 meter peaks ahead of any spiritual life with God as well as their families. Climbing was their god. The following is quoted from the book: “I thought of Wanda (Rutkiewicz) on faraway Kangenjunga, fallen off its summit ridge and now deep in one of its crevasses. I wondered whether she had realized another 8000 meter triumph, nine in all and whether her last moments were filled with fierce pride of having done what no other woman ever would - become the first to climb the three highest mountains in the world.”
All five of the women who climbed K2 in this book are dead. “What profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul?” Matthew 18:26