Rick could feel the strain in his shoulders as he struggled to pull himself up, following his father up the mountain. Looking up he could see his father already climbing onto the next ledge. Rick wondered how his father, who was 47, could make this look so easy. At 17 he thought he was in pretty good shape. Working out at the gym with his friends almost every night after school had left him fairly well muscled for his age. Now, as he pulled himself onto the ledge and looked at his father who had barely broken a sweat, he wondered.
“We are well over half way there now, Ricky,” Rick heard his father say.
Rick grabbed for his canteen, thirst and aching muscles his only concern at the moment. He hated it when his father called him Ricky; he was 17 now after all, no longer a child. Strained muscles and exhaustion kept Rick from responding this time.
Rick watched as his father resumed the climb; almost catlike, his old man always seemed to find the right rock to grab that would hold his weight. Not wanting to be shown up Rick followed. He wondered if this was his punishment for wrecking the Buick last week. This morning at 5 a.m. his father had woke him, muttering something about going hiking and it being time. Rick wondered what exactly it was time for as he felt another muscle in his shoulder tear. Above him, his father continued to climb with ease. They had driven in silence for 3 hours to get here.
Together they climbed through the late morning, Rick always staying just behind the old man he followed. His whole body ached, but determination kept him moving, always just a few feet behind. He wasn't going to be shown up by his father.
A sense of elation overcame him as he watched his father climb over the final peak, their journey almost over. The feeling changed to pride as Rick overtook the summit himself. Climbing onto the flat topped ledge looking back at lake that lay 2000 feet below them, Rick marveled at what he had just accomplished.
“Too hard for you old man,” Rick said out of breath, but trying to hide his pain from his father. “What are we doing here?”
“Just give me a minute, Rick,” his father panted, finally looking more exhausted than Rick felt.
From the peak the view was absolutely amazing; the lake where they had started from reflecting the sunlight. The reflected light caused the pine forest surrounding the lake to appear almost dreamlike. Rick could not remember ever seeing such a beautiful site.
“I'm sorry I wrecked the car Dad,” Rick said as his father approached.
“It was just a car, Ricky,” his father replied.
“It's beautiful isn't it,” his father said, pointing to the valley below. “Do you remember what you asked me when you were nine, Rick, about a year after your mother died.”
“No, Dad, I don't.”
“You asked me how you would know when it was time to accept Jesus, as your mother said you would have to one day,” his father stated. “I told you that you would know when the time came, and if you ever got lost along the way, I would tell you. Well son, today is that time.”
Rick pictured his mother. Rick remembered how beautiful she was, how comfortable she had always made him feel, and he remembered his mother's unending faith in Jesus. A sense of shame overcame him as he wondered what his mother would think of all the bad things he had done since the cancer had taken her. Tears filled his eyes as he remembered his mother’s love.
Dropping to his knees Rick prayed, for forgiveness, for acceptance, for his mother, for his father, and for himself. Prayer had not been a part of his life since his mother had gone; now as he bowed his head Rick knew that he was going to be okay. A feeling of love, like nothing he had known before, overcame him. The beauty of all God's creation surrounding him, Rick accepted Christ.
Rick could see the pride painted on his father’s face as he rose. “We better get going if we want to make it home before dark, son,” his father said.
At seventeen, Rick had climbed Longs Peak still a boy. Now as he followed his father down, he knew he was leaving as a man.
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