Obedience and Reward: A Climber's testimony

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Obedience and Reward: A Climber's testimony

Postby Akleich » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:22 pm

Hey guys, my name is Andrew Leich, and I recently became a member of SRCFC. I wanted to share a story with you all about what the Lord has done with me, and how He has been glorified through climbing, and hope that you will find encouragement in this testimony.

When I first came to college, I was not involved in the church. I had a relationship with the Lord, but didn't know Him very well, and lacked an understanding of His scriptures. My mother noticed that I loved the Lord, and suggested I get involved in some sort of campus fellowship. Of course, I had caught the climbing bug and attended West Virginia University partially for that purpose. I was ready to free myself from the burdens of every day life. During my first week of school I met a few climbers who invited me to a Bible study. This changed me as a man.

Fast forward four years. I graduated college a year early, and after spending at least half my time studying, and the other half climbing, I was ready to get away. I decided to take what would have been my fourth year of school as a "gap year" to travel around and climb. I started at the Red River Gorge. I figured it would be good to build endurance for the bigger walls out west that were the main goal. During my time at the Red, I also had plenty of time to really seek the Lord. He was leading me towards marriage, and so I became engaged soon after.

But I'm a little wild inside, and decided that I needed a "last hoorah" before I "setttled down" at the ripe old age of 22. I decided that the fall season of 2015 was my time to go west and really live it up: Yosemite, Bishop, Moab. You name it, it was on the list. So I packed everything in bins, and organized my old Toyota Land Cruiser to make a proper adventure vehicle, with gear storage and a place to sleep in the back. I was ready. I set off in September, and drove for a few hours. I made it about 5 hours when I suddenly just broke down...not my car, but my spirit. I just became super emotional. Everything felt wrong. What was I doing? I have a fiancée I'm leaving behind. Do I really want to live two more months on the road alone?

I stopped and wept. I prayed earnestly to the Lord to give me direction, and pondered if this sudden emotional outburst was from Him, or just my own insecurity. After pulling over and praying a while, I decided it was not worth it. I figured that if I had to wonder if God was pleased with this decision, then I probably shouldn't risk it. Why grieve the Holy Spirit? Why test the Lord? I would rather air on the side of caution. So, despite having no place to live until November, I turned around, and started heading back to Morgantown, West Virginia, where my fiancée was still attending undergrad. I had no plan, but was just hoping and trusting that God did. And I was not let down.

I called my buddy, who's father was the pastor of my church all through college, and he told me I could live in the upstairs dormatories of the church, until I could get a job and figure out some sort of plan. I felt a little relief, but I still had no job and no plan for the next year up until my wedding.

I took off a few days later on a hike through a local wildlife management area a few miles from my church. I remembered doing a couple climbs there in college, and thought I would look for more potential bouldering. Over a mile in, I turned a corner and almost ran into somebody. I was confused, considering I was the only car in the parking lot. We got to talking a bit. As it turns out, I ran into just the right person, Danny Rowand, another fellow believer, who just happened to know every backwoods crag and boulder in the region. We exchanged info and went our separate ways.

Shortly thereafter, I began exploring all of these areas Danny had mentioned, and discovered a sea of rocks, filled with untapped potential; all classic gritstone that is unique to this area. As I got to know Danny, I learned some things: what it looks like to give up everything to follow God, and also, how to bolt new climbs. I cleaned the biggest cliff I could find, and bolted my first route there, a route that became the first multi-pitch route in the area (at a staggering two pitches). It became "Obedience" 5.12a. The crag was maybe a mile from my church, where I was residing, and it became my place of rest. Every time I had a few hours to myself, I would go clean a new route, do some new boulders, or bolt a new line. It was addicting. This was my reward from the Lord; my reward for obeying God's call to turn around, despite the uncertainty, hence the name of the route, "Obedience."
Chris Egress on "Obedience" 5.12a

I decided I wanted to honor the Lord in all of my climbing efforts thereafter, and the Lord just kept blessing me over and over again with new discoveries of beautiful bouldering areas, and incredible new sport and trad lines on the always- engaging West Virginia gritstone. Since then, nearly two years later, the Lord allowed me to establish dozens of new first ascents of routes up to 5.14a, and boulders up to V10. He has also gifted me with solo ascents of some incredible lines, namely, "Beyond Measure" 5.13a.
The FA of "Dirty Rags" 5.14a

With ONE ACT of obedience, this is how the Lord blessed me beyond measure. Not only that, but we are still discovering new boulders and crags in the area, AND, I'm still getting to go to west this year: both to Yosemite and the Bugaboos.

Why do I tell you all this? Because if I must boast, I must boast in the Lord. And this is what the Lord has done in my life. None of this was my doing. The Lord gave it to me as a gift. With that, I want you all to know: our job here on earth is to be obedient to the Lord. In accordance with our faith and obedience, He will bring the increase. Whether your reward is received here on earth, or later in heaven (or both), He will be faithful. He only multiplies. He only increases. I want all of my fellow believing climbers to hear this testimony and be encouraged knowing that God sees what you do. He sees your steadfastness and your hard work for His glory. You will be richly rewarded.

If anybody wants to climb in West Virginia, particularly around Morgantown, I am always open to climb with anyone, and would love to show people around some new areas! Just send me a message!
Last edited by Akleich on Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Obedience and Reward: A Climber's testimony

Postby johnc » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:03 pm

Dude, your story gave me chills! Thanks for sharing it. During your trip out west, if you stop in Colorado to climb at all, hit me up!
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Re: Obedience and Reward: A Climber's testimony

Postby em_joyful » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:16 am

Amazing story! Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely come and visit.
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