I have heard it said that the very best comes after the hardest climb. No doubt that it is true, but man that climb can be horrible!!
7 years ago a girl with a passion made an effort to be the first. Being first wouldn’t come without a price. Sasha Diguilian had begun climbing at the young age of 6 years old and considered a professional by the young age of 18. It was at this age that no woman had climbed a 9a formation before. She was determined to do it. In 2011 Sasha climbed Pure Imagination a 9a (5.14d) in the Red River Gorge, making her the first American woman to climb a route of that grade. She had her goals set and she had them set high.
I watched the video as she climbed. She fell several times, caught by her rope and continued trying over a 6 day period until she finally reached the top. As she got there, here entire countenance changed. She looked out over the horizon and just said WHOA! I can’t believe that just happened. Her hands bloodied by the rocks and the tape ripped from her skin, when she reached the top she said, "SCREW THE TAPE, I MADE IT THROUGH THE CRACKS, I DON’T CARE IF I BLEED.”
She has been climbing her way to the top ever since with records set all over the world.
The only way Sasha could even set a record is through her first grip on a stoney surface and pulling herself up. Each time, reaching for more, pulling her weight and bleeding as she goes until she gets there, the goal, the top.
There are so many incredible climbing stories I wanted to share, but they all have the same ending. Getting to the top. The very best comes after the hardest climb.
According to Isaiah 2:2-3:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Many scholars and commentaries point to the prophecy contained in this scripture of the millennial end and if you want to study a ton about that, feel free to do so.. it is awesome to study, however, today, I want to look at it from a different perspective. Thinking for a moment about Sasha and her being the first woman in history to reach a height of that difficulty was amazing. She hasn’t been the only woman who has tried it since, but she set the way.
Looking at verse 2 and 3 we can see something similar. The mountain of the Lord is established. Interestingly the mountain of the Lord isn’t really one of the tallest mountains in the region, talking about it is more about the height of God and his position. And then to say “LET US GO UP” means someone had to go up prior and set the pace, blaze the trail. I realize that I may not be holding to the eschatological statement here, but bear with me a moment and look at another lesson of climbing.
I don’t know if you have ever been hiking on a mountain, but it is tough and if you go real high, the oxygen get’s thinner and it is harder for even the most conditioned to scale and to scale fast. I have climbed mountains and hiked trails and I’ll tell you, the best ones are the ones with a path already cut. It makes it easier to follow and easier to know how much further you have to go. Getting to the top is still tough and still a complete joy when you get there. The view is incredible, The air is crisp and clean. It’s beautifully amazing!!
It is when the trail hasn’t been cut that things are a bit harder. A bit scarier and require much more talent, patience and careful placement of your hands and feet. In Sasha’s situation, some had gone before her, but in her class, she was the first. She had a goal and a desire to do something, something that would make her feel incredible inside and something she could do for others women as well. When she made it to the top as the first recorded woman in history, she set the stage, she raised a bar and she said that women could do it.
As we go climb even higher in our own journey, we will mature and our motives change. The path we’re on will become increasingly lighter and brighter. The huge blessing is that once we get high enough to catch a glimpse of God’s glory, we will be absolutely blown away. So much so, we begin to realize how big he really is! Our thoughts will become more like His thoughts. Our actions will become more like His actions. As we climb, following the path that he has set before us, we will become more and more humble in the light of His glory. Our time will be spent going higher and what’s even better is the opportunity of going back to help others climb, just like Christ helps others climb.
The climb is never just about a personal goal of achieving the top rank and planting a flag, it’s about learning how to get there and teaching others how to do the same. The view always looks better when you have someone else to share it with. It’s almost like it’s hard to describe and explain unless you go there too. When we get there with others, they see a view that becomes even more incredible shared.
In 2 Peter 1:2-7 we can find some ways to climb to the top of our mountain. Some ways to experience the climb, but each area we place our hand and every foothold we can find is essential to have had the prior area firmly planted and understood in our lives. Let’s look at 1 Peter 1: 2-7 and see what it says:
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,[b] 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[c] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
We can see in verse 5 where the cracks in the rocks are like Sasha found and it all starts with faith. Here are those 8 cracks that get to the top of every mountain and wait until you see what is at the top!
FAITH and faith
Virtue and virtue with
Knowledge and knowledge with
Self-Control and Self-Control with
Steadfastness and steadfastness with
Godliness and Godliness with
Affection and affliction with
We can clearly see that the first step in this climb is a step of faith and a place where you have to believe that #GodsGotThis. It is an abandonment to a faith that somehow, you will get to where you are going. In this case, the climb, if each crack in the mountain of life we are climbing is adhered to will always lead to love.
There are some treacherous storms that can cause us to slip from the cracks and our bloody hands lose the strength to just hold on any longer. Some of those storms are bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment. All of these areas in our life are the sins we carry that weigh us down and cause us to carry more weight than we were intended to carry on this climb in the first place!
When climbing like Sasha did, she began getting bloody hands and had to quit a few times. Some of the sin in our lives can cause and create those bloody hands and even though we may overcome bitterness in our lives, when we have to face self-control and we can’t bring that part under control in our own lives it causes all the height we were able to gain to slip right past us as we fall as our hands lose grip in the cracks of life on that mountain.
From faith, we go next to the crack called VIRTUE. Virtue means behavior showing high moral standards. So to go from the faith in Christ and pulling up to virtue, we must be willing to live a life by showing a high moral standard. Let me tell you when you are climbing a vertical climb of a 9a, you are going to be seen by everyone and it’s not easy to hide a high moral standard by slipping up through low moral defeat. To get to that place of virtue, we must surrender and that takes faith. Faith to swing your hand under all the pressure of your own weight to a place of virtue. Once getting a hold of virtue in your life, it’s not easy to get to the next crack, KNOWLEDGE. Here’s a deep definition of knowledge, it’s what you know. Duh, right?! Yes and we learn in life through our struggles and pain and yes, from our ups and downs. Slipping from this height in the climb isn’t always as bad as it seems, not if we move by faith, to a place of virtue which then creates such a firm grip in knowledge it helps move us up another level to the next crack a little easier, but this one is a little hard to reach. It’s called SELF CONTROL. Sometimes we may get stuck in the knowledge we have attained by forgetting that we got there by faith and a virtue in Christ. Sometimes wounds along the journey can make us not want to forgive someone and by not doing that the next hold above our heads feels like it is just out of reach or we just no longer have the strength to get there. Self-Control is not just a sexual place that some may first go to in their minds, it can be a place of second-guessing others, a place of anticipating their moves even though they haven’t moved yet. It can be a place of passive-aggressive bitterness that is so hard to escape from, yet can cause us to slip from the cracks on our climb to the top. Keeping things in check, keeping things where they should be through the knowledge of Christ and the virtue we have found through our faith in him helps us to swing up to the next crack in our climb from Self-Control to STEADFASTNESS. This is a firm hold a deep crack to grab in the rock of this mountain. Steadfastness means resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. This is a place where you WILL NOT BE MOVED! It’s about half way up the climb and you’re pretty high now and just too far to turn back, however, you can still slip and fall, but if you really grasped knowledge, you set a stake in the rock and secured a safety that could help you if you slipped. Many times we may try to climb alone, but the best climb is with someone who can come along your side, someone to encourage, someone to keep us accountable and ensure we are staked in strong. This is a steadfastness that will be like a ladder rung helping us to the next crack called GODLINESS. Godliness is quick to be thought of as in definition as Christian Character, and although it does contain it, it is not primarily that by definition. It is more. Godliness is DEVOTION IN ACTION. I read an interesting article that talked about Enoch. We are told in Genesis that Enoch walked with God and Enoch pleased God. (Genesis 5:21-24) Hebrews 11 says that Enoch was one who pleased God. Enoch’s life was centered in God; God was the focal point, the very place to hold firm in this climb we are trying to climb. Enoch walked with God; had and awesome relationship with God, and he pleased God. Just saying all of this, it is easy to see and to say he was devoted to God. There is the meaning of godliness. DEVOTION IN ACTION. By this point we are pretty high in our vertical climb of this slick mountain called life. It’s okay to take breaks to lean back once in a while on your safety. We have a bag of rosin to keep our hands from slipping (for us that bag of rosin we carry is the word of God in our hearts...it is vital in what we are doing, always preparing us for that next step and covers us. We don’t want to fall from here, we’re up high enough, a fall could be fatal. But we still swing our arm and hand to the next crack in the mountain and this one is called AFFECTION. Affection can easily be considered love, however it differs just a bit. It means a gentle feeling of fondness or liking. This is a place similar, but not exactly to the top yet. I can have affection for someone, but not be in love or passionately love. If you remember dating your husband or wife, before you said the big L word to each other, you just liked being with each other. Spending time together. Finding things you enjoyed doing with each other. It became an affectionate place and if you firmly grip the crack in this mountain when you swing your hand up to the next spot to hold, you get to the place you have been trying to get to, you get to the top. When you get to the top of this mountain, you find LOVE. From faith all the way to love. What a journey and what a climb.
When I saw the video of Sasha making it to the top she was elated. Excited and overwhelmed. She took it in. She did it!!
You can too. It all starts with faith and faith to make the first move in your life. It’s all about THE CLIMB!!
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Start THE CLIMB this week, it just takes a little faith to start, but as you begin to grow and climb, the higher you get, the more you need to depend on the benefit of your journey to get to the top. I want to encourage you to start THE CLIMB this week. If you have fallen from it before, do like Sasha and get back to it, don’t stop, you might get hurt, you might bleed, it might be hard, but you can do it!!!
I want to remind you of a passage of scripture to help you think the way God wants us to think, which helps us tremendously on our climb...Remember as Paul said to us from God’s heart in Philippians 4:6-9 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
And that He surely will my friends. Keep climbing…..Don’t give in, don’t give up and never forget #GodsGotThis!