In the last few days, three different people have said to me, "I just had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer and I gave them the link to your blog." And each time I heard this, I thought about the person who had just received that news. I remembered how I felt when I read my ultrasound reports. I thought about how I felt when I woke up from surgery and heard that it was cancer and that it had spread.
I literally felt as if I stood facing a colossal mountain and had to climb over it to get to my normal life awaiting on the other side.
Carl and I love to go to the mountains in North Carolina. As soon as we catch sight of them in the distance we start getting excited. The closer we come to their majestic grandeur, the more in awe we become. We love to go hiking in the mountains. We choose a part of a trail, map out our route, put on our boots, bring our walking stick and some food and water and set out for the climb. When we start at the bottom, the top looks so far away. We can see off in the distance where the trail runs along the peak. We know that the trail will lead us over the mountain but it is too difficult to see until we get closer to it. Though we have a general idea of how long the climb will take us, we're not exactly sure because we don't know what obstacles we might face along the way.
And so we start our hike. The farther away we get from the noise of the highway, the more we can hear the chirps of the birds singing in the treetops, the crackling of the leaves as the squirrels and rabbits scamper around playfully. The babbling of the brook off in the distance. And as we get deeper into the woods, we are no longer able to see the mountain that looms ahead of us. Now we see only a few feet in front of us. We focus on each step along the way, careful not to trip over a rock or falling log in our path. Our eyesight becomes keener. We look through the camouflage of the trees and see a fawn, standing still as a statue, watching us. Our talking now becomes a whisper so we can better hear the sounds around us. We continue to walk. After awhile we stop for a drink and something to eat. Refreshed, we continue along the trail. We know that we are climbing higher and higher because we feel the slight tug on our leg muscles. But the incline doesn't seem overwhelming. We use our walking sticks along the way to knock away hanging limbs above our heads and to probe areas along the path where we are unsure of the footing.
We start to tire and stop to rest before continuing on the path. We are still unsure of how much longer we have to get to the top. We stop to rest again. And just when we feel as if we are too tired to go on,
we see a small ray of light through the trees! We walk a little further and find ourselves at the top of the mountain! The air is crystal clear. The sky is a gentle blue with not a cloud in the sky. And the brilliant sun sets a golden glow on every blade of grass it touches. We made the climb. We made it to the top of the mountain. We could now see the other side.
And I am reminded of the times in our life when we feel like we are facing a giant mountain. We can't see to the other side. We can't conceive of having the strength to make the climb. Even now, with 11 more chemo treatments ahead, followed by 42 radiations followed by major surgery and then waiting to see if it all worked, I feel like I have only walked a few steps up the mountain in front of me.
Are you standing at the bottom of a mountain right now? Our mountains have different names, but they are still mountains. "The death of a loved one". "The breaking of a relationship" "The loss of a home." "Alcoholism" "The loss of a job" "A wayward child". What mountain looms ahead of you?
For me, I refuse to look at the mountain. I will look only at the path that is directly in front of me. I won't try to figure out how much time it will take to get to the top. I will try to be attentive to what God has given me to enjoy along the way. I will take my faith and trust in Him and use it as my walking stick to go ahead of me. When I tire I will rest in Him and ask for renewed energy to go on. And when I reach the top of that mountain and see the other side, I will look up to the Son and give Him thanks for walking with me every step of the way.
And I will remember you in prayer as you make your climb, one step at a time.