It had been a long, busy summer with many projects and activities focused around keeping our Croatian volunteer center functioning smoothly, and my husband Paolo and I were looking forward to a relaxing vacation on the Croatian coast. It was still warm, so we decided to combine some beach time with some hiking.

We wanted to climb Mount Dinara, the highest mountain in Croatia, so we began gathering maps, information, tips from the locals, anything that would help prepare us for the day of the climb. And then it happened. The day before our big hike, Paolo bent down to pick up an empty plastic water bottle when he felt a strange pull in his back. He didn’t think too much of it at the time, but within a couple of hours, he could barely move due to the pain in his back. It was quickly clear that instead of climbing Dinara, the next few days were going to be focused on this medical situation.

At one point, Paolo looked at me and said, “We were going to climb Dinara, and now we’re climbing a different type of Dinara. It’s a tough climb, but we will make it to the top. We must keep reminding ourselves that as long as we keep moving our feet forward, eventually we will see and reach the top.”

This parallel was with us as we struggled through the next days, through the flurry of calling an ambulance, receiving anti-inflammatory injections, and figuring out how to return home. It was a challenging time, full of surprises, but God came through as He always does. His presence was constant and His guidance was impeccable, just as it is every time.

That doesn’t sound like a very happy vacation! you might think. But it was what it was supposed to be. We went with the intention to swim and climb mountains. And that’s what we did! We climbed a different type of mountain, and with God’s help we reached the top.

Everyone faces mountains in their lives at one time or another. It might be health issues, possibly much more serious or long-lasting than we experienced. Perhaps it’s your relationships, your job situation, or financial problems. Maybe you feel alone and depressed. No matter what type of mountain it is, as you start climbing, remember that you might not know how high it is or how long it will take to get to the top. But if you put your hand in the hand of God and let Him be your mountain guide, He will get you there.