One of my favorite things about backpacking and climbing tall mountains is the sunrise. There is something much more special about a sunrise than that of a sunset. The dawning of a new day is a great reminder of God’s mercies. Scripture says that God’s mercies are fresh every morning. This is a great reminder for me that as God grants me a fresh start every day, so should I with those around me. In order to see the sunrise in the picture above, we had to start hiking at 11pm at night. Cotopaxi is a volcano in Ecuador and it takes a little effort to get to the top and see this view. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. The altitude was not something I was prepared for. I had climbed above 12,000′ a few times and above 14,000 once or twice, but I was nowhere near ready for almost 20,000′. It was a whole new ballgame for me.
We were in Ecuador visiting some youth leaders and outdoor leaders. This trip was part of an intentional trip to summit this mountain as we spent time with one another in the wilderness, much like Christ often did with his disciples. I frequently look back to this trip and remember all of the pain and suffering that I endured to get to the top, and trust me, it was only by the grace of God that I summited this mountain. I wanted to quit so many times. I wanted to turn back and go to my bunk and go back to sleep. But, I was determined to not let my team down, and furthermore, prove to myself that I could do it. It was painfully slow to get to the top. It was only 3 miles to the top but it took me 8 hours to summit. I had so much encouragement from others on the way to the top. If it weren’t for them and their encouragement, I would have undoubtedly quit and turned back.
As I was climbing, this sunrise was what was giving me hope. I had 2 pieces of scripture come to mind. Psalm 19 and Psalm 110. “The heavens declare the glory of god and the skies proclaim his handiwork” and “I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” These 2 passages brought me great comfort and courage as I climbed toward the top. One was inspiring and the other was encouraging. These 2 verses pushed me to really dig deep and trust in the Lord for the strength needed to make the climb. Upon summiting, I couldn’t help but to stand in awe of the beautiful and majestic view that stood before me and that resulted in praise and worship of the one that created all of it.
It’s times like this that I believe we need to invite others into. Times like this, where we have trials that challenge our physical, mental and spiritual limits. We need to walk with others through these trials and encourage and push them to dig deeper and trust in the Lord and that He is good and faithful. This is one of the many reasons why I love my job with Nexus International. Not only do I get to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it, I get to share my life with these leaders who will go on to impact and make disciples of young people all over the world!!