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The Heights!

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19
Last week, our family traveled to Banff, Canada for an adventure of a lifetime:  clear turquoise-blue glacial lakes, rocky snow-capped mountain peaks, wildflowers in the colors of the rainbow, fresh mountain air, and the laughter of family all around- best week ever!  Each day offered a new adventure that challenged leg strength and lung capacity.  The week was not designed for the faint of heart!  After four challenging days, we decided to stay local to enjoy the beauty of our immediate surroundings.  Our home sat on the side of a Canadian Rocky known as Kicking Horse Mountain.  We were walking distance to gondolas that whisked us up the mountain- revealing a panoramic view of the valley and river below.  Our goal: the trailhead for the walk along the ridge of the mountains. Compared to the hikes of the previous days, this path was supposed to be a walk in the park.  I should have paid more attention to its name- Terminator Ridge!

When I imagined this hike along the ridge, I pictured the scene at the end of the Sound of Music, when the von Trapp family are walking over the Austrian Alps into the safety of Switzerland.  In my mind, I could hear Climb Every Mountain playing…the music swelling as the family walks through mountaintop fields of wildflowers… the children running and skipping… the family chatting.  I imagined a long walk, even at times a steep walk, but not a treacherous walk. But that is not what I found at the top of Kicking Horse Mountain.  Instead of broad fields of wildflowers, I found a narrow path, carved out of the rock, with a sheer rockface stretching upward on the left, and the mountain falling sharply  away to the right.  Loose rock was strewn along the path adding another layer of instability.  Scrappy bits of trees and nooks in the rocks offered a few handholds, but often I found that a rather unflattering bear crawl was the safest way to navigate the uphill climb.  I must admit that if you talk to other members of our family, they may offer a much kinder description of the path; but from my perspective, almost every step held the potential for disaster.

It was on this climb that I discovered something about myself:  I have a fear of heights.  We are fortunate to have a doctor in our family group.  (This came in handy several times during our adventuresome week.)  He kindly reminded everyone that a fear of heights is a very logical fear. From the heights there are many ways to fall and falling can be perilous to your overall wellbeing.  Climbing the heights may offer the opportunity to enjoy great views, but the price is risk to life and limb.  On the hike that day, I was amazed at how overwhelming the fear of heights can be.  That fear increased my heartrate, challenged my breathing, and narrowed my vision to the immediate path at my feet- robbing me of any enjoyment of the view below. I found myself wanting to go back but unable to turn around, fearing the descent even more than the climb.  So, I forged onward with no plan for how to extricate myself from the Terminator’s grasp.

If I had been alone that day, I am not sure how I would have navigated the heights .  Instead, I was surrounded by family, before and behind, cheering me on, guiding my hands and feet, calming my anxious heart, and even offering moments of humor.  We dis covered that o ur little granddaughters are part mountain goat, and our oldest granddaughter is blossoming into a wonderful trail guide.  Their example gave the final encouragement to get me up and down the mountain. The next day, we witnessed a family of mountain goats navigating the sheer rockface along the side of the Icefields Parkwayone of the most iconic roadways in North America.  The care of the father goat reminded me of my family, as he shepherded his little one safely down the mountainside, across the highway of cars paused to watch, and down the other side.  Watching the teamwork of that little mountain goat family reminded me of our littlest granddaughter's cheer, “No Nana left behind!”

That’s what the prophet Habakkuk remind s us, that we are not alone on the heights. Even when the challenge seems overwhelming, even when the path seems ’s unsure, even when fear narrows our vision so that we cannot see the next step, our Lord is right there, guiding, calming, cheering us on, and then giving us all we need to navigate the heights. The Psalmist echoes this assurance:
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to go on the heights.
Pslam 18:32-33
While I do not think that I will ever choose to go on Terminator Ridge will be heights in my future that may offer a similar challenge.  again, I know that there When that day comes, not have my cheering family at the ready, but I know that my God is always with me.  promise is sure and certain.  Jesus said, “Behold I might His old, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  If you are facing the heights… if you know someone who is on that perilous pathway… trust the One who makes our feet like those Canadian mountain goats, able to tread even on the heights.

With you trusting the One,
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