When was the last time you were faced with a decision where it really mattered what you did? Where it wasn’t the choice between two equally good options, with no real fallout no matter which way you went?
I remember getting lost in the Pisgah National Forest with a group of friends. We had been backpacking for two days, having a great time, and the two folks who had been there before were in charge of the map and compass. We started the hike back on the last day, an easy three-hour hike back to the car. At the outset, we crossed a small stream and started down what appeared to be the trail. An hour later, we were fighting our way through brush, realizing we had somehow lost the trail. We heard water nearby and worked our way down to the river that had grown out of that small stream. Not only was it too deep and fast to cross, but on the other side we could clearly see the trail we should have been on.
Annoyed with ourselves but believing we were still close to the parking area, we decided to press forward rather than backtrack. For the next six hours, we climbed ridge after ridge, believing each one to be the last. We went from offering mutual encouragement to blaming and snapping. At one point, I remember thinking, “I am tired of this–I just want to stop.” Then it hit me: stopping wasn’t an option. Unless I was prepared to live the rest of my life lost in a dense grove of Mountain Laurel with six really annoying people, I had to keep going.
That was a moment of decision for me, and as soon as I dealt with the reality of the situation, it got easier. Instead of fantasizing about clicking the remote and finding myself suddenly on an easier, friendlier channel, I got really focused and started leading in a way I never had before. I connected with a core part of me that I had been content to let lie dormant in my daily life. Later, when we finally did get back to the car, I was euphoric. Not because we were headed back to showers and civilization but because I’d had a chance to be really tested and found that there was a part of me that both could, and wanted to, rise to that kind of occasion. It was almost like, “how soon can we get lost in the mountains again?”
The Easter message at Quest is titled, “The Hill Men Die On,” (check it out online), and when I think of it, the “hill” I could’ve died on was the hill of “just stopping.” The hill of being in front of a door and refusing to open it because I couldn’t guarantee what was on the other side, even though all my senses told me it was something incredible. And if I would have given in to the lie that it wasn’t really a make-or-break decision–that “it’s all good, man”–I would have walked away safe, but sad, and dead. I am so glad I took Jesus up on the dare to open that door and go cliff jumping with him.