Strong Optimism, Rough Terrain
Hannah’s youthful determination enabled her to complete second grade with high scores and absolute obedience. She and her three older sisters earned a reward trip to the mountains. At first, Momma said she was too young and the expedition would be too hard, but Hannah convinced Momma otherwise. She knew climbing to the top of Mount Harney couldn’t be any harder than earning straight A’s or staying out of trouble.
The little trooper slipped on her new pink and white, light-up walking shoes and grabbed her water bottle. Smiling from ear to ear, with boundless energy, she dashed to the van. She felt grown-up, because her two younger siblings were spending the day with a baby-sitter while she marched up the mountain with the big girls.
“Here we are! Everybody out!” Daddy was excited, too. “Hannah, are you sure you want to do this?”
“I’m a big girl, Daddy. I’ll race you to the top.” With a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, she added, “And we know who’ll win, don’t we?”
Laughing and joking made the climbing easy and time flew by. At the end of an hour, Hannah’s pigtails bounced back and forth as she scurried to keep up with the older girls.
Everyone indulged in taking frequent breaks the second hour. “Thank God someone thought about putting benches along the trail for weary travelers,” Momma smiled as she leaned back, swallowing another sip of water. “We’re more than half way to the peak.”
Ascending the rocky, winding mountain slope increased the need for caution. “Are you still okay, Hannah?” Daddy asked.
“I’m fine! Remember you’re bigger than I am. I don’t have as much weight to lug around, so it’s easier for me.”
“You little stinker!” Daddy teased her as they edged forward across jagged rocks jutting the narrow footpath.
“Mommy, is that Harney Tower over there?” Hannah spotted the destination before the others. “How much longer will it take?”
“About another half hour, Sweetie. Can you make it?”
“I will make it,” she announced firmly.
“Yeah!” the sisters chorused together as they detected the tower. Examining the innumerable steps ahead of them made them realize how valuable their walking sticks were. One step at a time was a huge challenge.
Hannah rested on a ledge before poking her head into the tower. “Oh, Mommy, this is beautiful. I told you I could do it.” She dropped to the floor, asking, “May I take my shoes off now? My feet hurt.”
“We’re not finished hiking yet, Darling,” Momma panted.
“Yes, we are, Mommy. We can’t go any higher. Look around us. We are at the very top of the mountain.”
“But where did we leave our vehicle, Hannah?”
Reality hit. Crocodile tears slid down Hannah’s face. “You mean we have to go all the way back down – today? I thought we’d be done when we got to the top. Daddy, can you carry me part way down?”
“Do you remember the little train that ‘thought he could’ climb the mountain railroad track? Going up was the hardest part. Going down will be easier, but tiring. You can make it, can’t you? What was the verse you learned in Sunday School?”
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13,” Hannah answered wearily.
“Do you think God will give you strength to keep going when you are already exhausted? Do you really expect Him to answer your prayers?”
Thoughtfully she answered, “He always does. Yes, I expect to make it to the bottom, and you won’t even have to carry me.” Faint hope crept into her tired eyes. “But can I just go barefoot?”
“Not this time.”
The weary family trekked quietly downhill, replacing hilarity with determination. Hannah forged ahead of the others. In her young mind, she knew that if her pace slowed, she would never finish the course. The family stayed within earshot, often hearing her barely whisper, “I can do all things… through Christ…which strengtheneth me. I know you will help me, God.” Occasionally her lips quivered and tears dropped from the corners of her eyes. Her hands quickly brushed them away, as she repeated her prayer.
Evening shadows fell. Bodies ached. Time seemed to crawl.
Abruptly Hannah, still in front of the group, jumped up and down, shouting, “We did it. I see our van. God gave us exactly what we expected - all the strength we needed!”
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