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Topic: Endurance (03/22/04)
TITLE: The view from the top is spectacular
By Melanie Kerr
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That morning we visited a hydro-electric power station in Ffestiniog. There were huge generators encased in concrete and steel and a steady hum in the background. Afterwards we walked along a road, with its new black tarmac, winding upwards to look at the dam. I don’t remember whether there was any water. Forgive me, but I have seen a number of dams since.
This is where the memory really kicks in. They made us climb to the top of the mountain to see the view. We are not talking about people roped together and pick axes. There was a path of sorts and had I been a mountain goat I might have nimbly hopped from one tuft of heather to another. I may have been just as eager as the rest of the class to get to the top, but being some six inches smaller than most I was soon trailing way behind everyone else. In today’s world my physical state might have been examined carefully under a microscope and a label slapped on it. In those days you just joined in. Red faced, sweating and just about breathing, my heart beat if anyone had cared to monitor it was probably few beats off a major heart attack. This was not fun. Just putting one foot in front of another and the constant upward angle was close to torture.
To give them credit, the others did wait for me to catch up. However, just as I had reached the spot where they were all stretched out, relaxed and munching on chocolate bars, they got up and started moving off.
The misery went on for miles of rock and heather and shallow ditches. Something in the weary droop of my shoulders, or perhaps the asthmatic wheeze, or the dangerous colour of my face alerted one of the teachers to the realisation that I was not going to make it alone. Suddenly I had an arm underneath my elbow and a comforting word in my ear.
“The view from the top is spectacular.”
With every step forward and upward, I encouraged myself with the words, “The view form the top is spectacular”. It became my mantra.
Spectacular was absolutely the right word. It was not one of those misty days you get on mountains but crystal clear. Snow capped mountains stretched as far as the eye could see. You could even see the shiny line of the sea and misty little islands in the distance. The world was stretched out in front of me in a three hundred and sixty degree panorama. Below me I could see the mountain goat trail twisting downwards. It was already becoming a distant memory.
Apart from a very shaky pair of legs, a bright red face and a huge dose of perseverance what other essential ingredients got me to the top of the mountain? I could not have made it without the hand beneath my elbow and the constant encouragement of “The view from the top is spectacular.”
In my Christian life there have been many steep mountains. Some mountains move when I apply my mustard-sized faith in prayer. Other mountains are for climbing. True wisdom is being able to distinguish between them.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us just how much better two people are than one. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. To know the presence of someone walking alongside and offering a hand beneath the elbow gave me the strength to endure.
I had never been up this mountain but as we walked, my companion painted a picture in my mind of what the view was like, planting hope in my heart. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us to fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is not seen. To know that the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular makes the climb worthwhile. Let’s listen to the testimonies of people who have trod the path ahead of us and seen the view from the top.