FIRST-PERSON: Press on toward the goal
BARRE, Vt. (BP)--Earlier this month my oldest son Taylor and I hiked up Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak at 4,400 feet. It was something that Taylor has wanted to do for quite a while but we had just not gotten to it yet. He had graduated from high school and was set to leave for college the following week, and we realized we needed to make the hike before the opportunity passed. So we filled our backpacks with two days' worth of food, hitched our sleeping bags to the packs and started up the mountain.
I am 43 years old, 25 pounds overweight and my right leg is wired, screwed and pinned together with a rod running up the interior of my leg bone due to a serious automobile accident I was in more than a decade ago. Though I love to walk each morning, there is a big difference between taking a walk on familiar roads around my home and climbing the tallest mountain in our rugged state. Needless to say, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
There were a number of times during the journey that I was not sure I was going to make it. At one point we were scrambling over jagged rocks more than 3,000 feet up the mountain. One spot we had to climb through was so tight we had to take our backpacks off and squeeze them through before we could wedge ourselves through the hole. I did wonder at one point if I was going to die on that mountain. But I kept telling myself to just keep going. I told myself over and over again "do not stop, do not stop, even though it is so much harder than I thought it would be and my leg hurts really bad, just keep going." I knew that if I ever stopped, I might not get moving again. I kept focused on my goal, which was to reach the top of the mountain with my son and spend the night in a rustic cabin maintained by the Green Mountain Trail Club.
I am happy to report that we made it to top of the mountain and then over the ridge to the cabin where we stayed through the night with six other hikers during one of the most horrific thunderstorms I have ever witnessed. Then we hiked down the next day with the runoff from the thunderstorm making the path a virtual waterfall that we had to hike through for hours. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my son, and I am so glad I got to do it with him. And I admit that I am secretly hoping my younger son will prefer a Caribbean cruise for his last father/son bonding event before going to college in two years.
I learned a number of things during that hike. The first thing I learned is that when we have a goal in mind, we must stay focused on it and keep moving toward it. We may experience pain along the way, but we must keep going. We may have some tight spots to squeeze through, but we must keep going. We may have some unexpected delays along the way, but we must keep going. If we hope to achieve our goals in life, we must learn to just keep going until we have climbed all the mountains in our path.
This truth about pressing onward toward the goal is true in father/son bonding experiences but it is also true in all other areas of life. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, "Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus."
Let us press onward today toward the goal, which is the heavenly call of Jesus Christ. If we make knowing Christ the chief goal in our lives and just keep going, we will climb all the mountains we need to and life will be good.
Terry Dorsett is director of the Green Mountain Baptist Association. For information, visit VermontBaptist.org.