this is what i wrote for my final ‘ah-haa’ moment for class this semester. when i presented it to the class i had all my gear with me as well.

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From the beginning of this project I felt the Lord pressing on my heart that somehow my attempt to summit Mt. Rainier last summer was to be a part of this presentation. Initially I thought it was because of the verse: The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. And I thought this because I had to make a decision on the side of that mountain to continue or turn around. It was a VERY hard decision to make but I knew for my safety and the safety of the team I had to turn around. It was an agonizing decision.

However, after we studied this Scripture it became clear to me that was not His intent as that’s most likely not what the Scripture means―He wanted me to see the connection between attempting to summit a mountain and what it takes to work in a team.

You see, when you attempt to climb a mountain like Mt. Rainier, you must make sure you have the proper gear.

Two pairs of socks: check

Under layer: check

Mid layer: check

Protective pants: check

Protective jacket: check

Down jacket: check

Mountaineering boots: check

Gaiters: check

Hat: check

Two layers of gloves: check

Helmet: check

Head lamp: check

Harness: check

Crampons: check

Ice axe: check

The list is rather long and this isn’t even quite as thorough as it could be. All these things are meant to protect me from harm in some way shape or form. The proper layers and clothing keep me warm, the boots are waterproof to keep me dry, the down jacket is specifically for when we stop at each island of safety so my core body temp doesn’t drop―I think we all know what the hat is for, the gloves, helmet, headlamp, etc. The crampons keep me grounded, without them I can’t climb the steep side of the mountain without falling. And if I do fall, I can use them to dig into the side of the mountain. Just like the ice axe. Lord willing it will be used mostly to help keep my balance, but if I fall, I can use it to dig into the side of the mountain and prevent myself from falling too far.

But you see, there are two things wrong with this perspective. One: I am viewing all this gear and equipment as items to protect me and keep me safe on the mountain. Two: I am missing two very important pieces of equipment.

One important piece of equipment I did not address yet is the harness. This piece is all about me but it’s also all about my team. And the piece of equipment that is missing is the rope.

You might be asking, what’s wrong with viewing the equipment as items that protect you and keep you safe? In and of itself, this perspective is not wrong. However, when you bring the harness and the rope into the equation (the broader text if you will), you see that those items serve an even greater purpose than just protecting me.

I cannot climb this mountain alone. Sure I can try, but I will tell you right now, my chances of survival are slim to none. I need a team. And the team needs me. When I was attempting to summit, they required a minimum of three people on a rope. Interesting huh? Each person is tied into the same rope. One leads, one is in the middle and one is in the rear. Their harnesses are tied into my harness. As you climb, with one hand holding the rope and one hand holding your axe, you feel the tension on the rope in front of you and/or behind you. As you move as a team the tension on the rope tells you if you need to move faster or slower. We each pay attention to the speed of the person in front and/or behind, being careful not to step on the rope; after all we have these fiercely sharp crampons on our boots and we cut the rope, how will we go one to the top and then get back down?

The team began the day with what we call an alpine start, meaning it’s still very dark, about 1 a.m. when you begin the trek. The farthest ahead you can see is the person in front of you; your head lamp doesn’t go much farther. Suddenly, you hear a team member scream, “falling!” You and the other team member do exactly what you have been trained to do, you dive into the side of the mountain, on top of your ice axe and kick and firmly plant your boots with the crampons into the side of the mountain. You can feel it; the sudden jerk on the rope from the team member who has now stopped falling through the crevasse.

You see, while I may think my equipment is to protect me, keep me warm and help me make it to the top of the mountain. It is also for my team. My gear, my equipment could be the very thing that saves my team member from falling, falling even to death.

And this is my ah-haa moment.

However the Lord has equipped me, it is not for me in the end. It is for others. It is to help keep my team, my brothers and my sisters in Christ from falling; to be roped in and ready to feel the tension; to know when to loosen up and when to tighten up; to listen for the yell and brace for impact. It’s the only way we’ll all make it to the top of the mountain, being roped in together, willing to recognize our equipment is not for just ourselves.

Our group determined “Proverbs 27:2-22 looks at issues involved in wisely engaging community, duties, and interpersonal relationships, according to the principles of integrity, prudence and humility.” I’m challenged to continually look at this life from a community perspective, beyond my immediate influence and walls. It’s not all about me.

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