7/29/13 (submitted by a man on Peak Challenge and used with his permission)
I’m back for the first full day since leaving ona four day trip into the mountains with a men’s group. The group intended to tent camp for several days with two primary objectives. One was to engage in spiritual growth through a series of testimonies and worship material. The second objective was to hike a 14K mountain peak. The journey began with an 11 hour caravan to Colorado on a Thursday and was intended to conclude with the same lengthy drive home on Monday morning.
The daylight hours of Friday and Saturday were jam-packed with mountain explorations and excursions to become acclimated to the altitude. The climb was scheduled for sunrise on Sunday.Disaster would unfold emotionally on Sunday as I continue my reflection of the cancellation of the hike due to weather.
I will never forget the turmoil I experiencedJuly 28, 2013. Well before sunrise, several rain drenched brethren dejectedly marched through our campsite proclaiming news of the pinnacle event being cancelled. At first I did not believe the update. Soon I realized I didn’t want to believe. Then all at once I recognized I was charging into stages of grief over this newsflash. Denial was already in full force.
Anger, Bargaining, Depression and hopefully Acceptance were to come. While in denial I walked away from my group, because I knew anger was on its way in a hurry.
Anger swooped in like a hurricane in a matter of minutes. I cursed the rain. I called out to God with several mighty statements, “Are you kidding me?!!” My anger was driven though thoughts of preparation by myself and others for this event. I tossed fuel on the anger by reminding my creator that I was going to chuck many wounds, hurts and sins off that summit. I propelled the anger by proclaiming 230 other men were here for Him and how we all prayed for this conclusion to be avoided. My anger engulfed logical reasoning and the evil one jumped on the bandwagon and began feeding me lies, self-deterioration and spiritual warfare.
I prayed and began to bargain.
I called out to God in prayer to change my heart and release me of the lies. I wept with repentance. Anger moved to negotiating and I found my conversation with God shift to a whine. I plead with Him for other outcomes. I solicited alternatives including quick weather changes, shorter summit hikes, extending days for the excursion and several other grandiose strategies for solutions. It was time for me to accept this thing was over and there wasn’t going to be any negotiating because this was the outcome. Within ten minutes I reached sadness and I wept.
Depression has engulfed me for the better part of the past decade. What began as an exercise in routine lamenting over job loss, finances and male pride has matured in darkness over the years. My Savior and faith foundation overpowered these obstacles until about two years ago. It was at that time I once again became unemployed and betrayed all in one swoop.The difference was this time it came from my very own congregation. God was involved in a different way this time around. This time the loss became personal between Him and I. Of all the challenges my wife and I have faced in our 20 years together, this betrayal even took the wind out of our unshakable relationship.
The depression stage of this cancellation news hit hard. For months I visualized the physical exertion of this hike paying off as I stood over His creation and reconciled this betrayal. I envisioned the release of guilt, shame, regret and bitterness in the form of some object flung off the summit. I dreamt of the relief held in the moment conquering not only the mountain but leaving years of pain and suffering behind as I turned to descend this peak. I began to weep different tears. I felt defeated.
The depression stage lasted during tear down of camp, the entire 11 hour drive home and even the walk through a streamer lined doorway my three children had prepared for my arrival. I recall the gloomy mood in camp closing worship. Over half of the men from the night before were absent for our sendoff. I am positive I mumbled less than ten sentences for the first 8 hours after learning about the cancellation. I felt isolated and re injured.
The title of this event is Peak Challenge. Although the hike isn’t the only reason we participate, it does provide the climax for the event. I don’t know why others were there or what they were hoping to accomplish. I do know we all missed out on something and shared a disappointing consequence. It was this concept that I prayed over as my head hit a clean pillow on a soft bed after a long hot shower that evening.
This may be the best Peak Challenge ever was my last thought of the evening.
The next day I awoke to the thought from the night before and began to feel the grief stage of acceptance. You see, this may have been the best challenge ever because it had no peak. I was so determined to make that hike to toss emotional garbage, exhibit my strength of once again overcoming life and releasing those sins, that I overlooked the most important element of Christ’s love. It’s not about what I do for peace; it’s about receiving the peace He has already provided. I didn’t need to climb a mountain to dump those feelings. I just needed to trust and appreciate the rock who invites that dumping ground every day.
The morning after was a new day. I chose to let the depression stage end. I chose to hear truth from my Savior. I chose to surround myself with peace, love and forgiveness. I reflected on the climb Christ made for me at Calvary and I allowed Him to cleanse those things I intended to chuck off Mt. Elbert.
Even though it was a devastating feeling to miss out on the hike, this may be the best Peak Challenge ever.
My reason is simple; the rock on which I stand doesn’t get rained out.