A climb that healed

“If we can climb this mountain, there’s nothing we can’t overcome together!”

I remember my dad struggling to smile and look hopeful as he pointed toward a rocky mountain about 100 feet from the highway. I was 13, and my dad, my older brother, and I were driving through the scorching rocky deserts of Mexico back to the United States to take care of some business.

My parents had been doing full-time mission work in Mexico, and I loved being right beside them at every step. Life was beautiful there, and I enjoyed it very much.

At this particular time, however, things weren’t so great. My parents were having some difficulties in their marriage, and they’d decided to live apart for a few months. Mom had moved away a few weeks before, and I worried and wondered if she would return.

For most of the journey, I could tell that my dad was dealing with the difficulty of the situation. He looked sad, worried, and tired. The air was thick with a feeling of weariness and insecurity. At the same time, all three of us began to feel physically sick with headaches, mainly due to the heat, but also because of all the emotions. I remember feeling like we could all easily burst into tears. It went on like this for almost a whole day when suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, Dad stopped driving.

I can still see Dad’s face. The tears that he was holding back seemed to glisten in his eyes as he got out of the car and told us to come with him. Reluctantly—as teenagers can do—we slowly got out of the car. About 100 feet away rose the big crag of a mountain—all rock. It was at least a couple of hundred feet high and there certainly wasn’t any sort of path leading up to the top.

The heat raged down on our heads as we squinted up at the rocks, then quickly turned around to ensure there weren’t any wandering rattlesnakes or coyotes. We stood there silently wondering what we were supposed to do, when Dad spoke:

“If we can climb this mountain, there’s nothing we can’t overcome together!”

Somehow he knew that this was the healing that each of us needed.

Amazingly, my brother and I, as horrid as we were feeling, didn’t argue with him. I stood there, looking up at this rocky hill, and actually felt challenged to give it a try. Sure, we were tired, sick, and sad, but looking up at the top, I knew it was going to feel good to stand up there, having conquered the rocks.

We left the truck on the side of the road, and without looking back or stopping to take anything with us, we started climbing upward. After about ten minutes of climbing, we began having small talk as we wove our way through the rocks and crevasses—a little “Thanks, Dad” here and “Hey, you did that fast!” there. This eased our discomforts and helped us focus on the task at hand.

Thinking back on that climb now, it was as though we were letting go of our hurts and fears as we climbed. We were throwing up our hands in surrender and telling Jesus, “We trust You.”

There were so many emotions and unspoken questions in the corners of my heart. I’d tried to be strong for my dad’s sake and had not even realized these feelings and fears were there. But as we climbed higher, it felt as if the weights and worries were falling off my shoulders and were being left behind each boulder and rock I passed.

It took us two to three hours in the scorching sun before we reached the top, and by then, the wind was blowing and the sun was beginning to set with a gorgeous orange and yellow glow. We were breathless, both from the climb and from the panoramic beauty we were privileged to see. We laughed, we talked, and we allowed ourselves to feel our great Creator’s love. We let go of our troubles, and the smiles returned to our faces. As exhausted as we were, I remember feeling so alive, so free.

We climbed down from that mountain changed and renewed. I just knew everything was going to be okay. And it was, even aside from the fact that my parents eventually worked out their differences and my mom came back. God had touched us through the beauty of His nature and the simple illustration of climbing a mountain; He showed us that there was nothing that we couldn’t overcome! And He made sure that we felt His love and presence.

Here are two reasons I’ll never forget that climb:

The first was how distinctly I felt Jesus’ presence. As I stood on the top of that rocky mountain, I felt happy, secure, and loved, when all my previous emotions made me feel anything but that. It was unearthly and surreal.

The second reason was that it was clear to me that I didn’t have to “heal” myself. I didn’t have to struggle to overcome the emotions. I didn’t have to work at it; I wasn’t down on my hands and knees in anguish and desperation. I simply relaxed and let Jesus speak quietly to my heart through the wind and the mountains and through that feeling of joy at reaching the top. It was nothing more than throwing myself into His strong arms, knowing that He would catch me.