Friday, January 1, 2010

False Peak or Summit?

When I was about 10 years old, I climbed my first Colorado 14,000-foot mountain ("14er"). It should have been easy, by Colorado standards, -- it was a straightforward follow-the-trail-to-the top with one foot in front of the other and you can't go wrong type of climb. But even then my youthful eyes wandered from the trail. It seemed so monotonous, so predictable. And it was taking forever. My friend and I eyed the summit. Only a short set of boulders and small rocks ("scree") appeared to separate us from our goal, so, despite protestations from my father, who trailed some yards behind, we decided to climb straight up. Forget that meandering trail. It would take HOURS that way.

The louder my dad yelled, the quicker we scrambled over the rocks. Giddy with the anticipation of reaching the goal and triumphant with our superior navigation, we climbed on. If we had looked back, which we didn't, we would have seen that my dad had also veered from the trail and was scrambling up the rocks not far behind. What we didn't realize, as many experienced climbers know, was that we were crawling toward a "false summit" -- a peak that hides the real top from view. We began to hear my father's voice, carried by the wind: "false peak girls, it's a false peak! Turn around." Determined, we ignored him and climbed faster over the loose scree and gravel, our feet slipping from time to time but our pride too swollen to admit our wrong.

Naturally, the glory ended when we reached our "top." Not only had we crested a false peak, but we had also veered about a mile away from the trail, and the true summit looked even farther away, almost unobtainable. My dad, ever-loving and patient with his strong-willed daughter, caught up and explained the error of our ways. We would have to backtrack -- all the way down, and start again on the meandering, switch-back trail below. It was a blow, but we did it. And four hours later, we reached the real top.

Sometimes I find I still handle my life journey the same way. I want the summit, and I want it now. I am willing to embrace the harder road, because it will get me there quickly, right? Maybe. But not all the time. I'm learning that sometimes the path that God has laid before me is the long one -- the day-in, day-out, one-in-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of road. And I've noticed that when I try to veer away on my own shortcut, even if my "summit" appears to be a God-centered goal, I am gently lead back down the way I came. Start again, God seems to say.

And so, at the start of 2010, I find I'm back at 11,000 feet, just above timberline. My day is filled from sun-up to sun-down with diapers, sippy cups, bottles, toys, full-time career, car-ride negotiations, dinner "discussions," bedtime rituals, and more diapers... and I'm looking to find that path again. My summit is out there, in the distance, but at the moment I know I must focus on the day-to-day. Have I spent time in prayer for my family, for my neighborhood, for my city, my nation, or do I just talk about how I want things to change? Have I turned to Scripture every day to let the Word light my path, or do I count on myself to guide my way?

I'm not a natural at consistency. I initially like the challenge of a path, but then my eyes wander -- what's over THERE? So I hope to use this blog to chronicle (and keep me accountable) the joyful journey of our day-to-day. We'll reach a summit of some kind, eventually. But I suspect that on the level road -- the true adventure awaits.