“I’m almost to the top. I know I can make it.”The trail was extremely steep. The altitude at the base was 8,000 feet above sea level. The peak stood at more than 11,000 feet.
Just walking up the first set of stairs I began breathing heavier than normal. I had to remind myself to take it easy. At home in Houston, I run several miles a few times a week and I play a lot of basketball. But the elevation there is only fifty feet above sea level. The thinner air in Colorado had me doubting whether I could make it to the top.
I started out with just my cell phone and a bottle of water. Determined, I set a pretty good pace. The first fifteen minutes seemed fairly easy. The next fifteen minutes was more and more difficult. I felt as though I was carrying an extra load. I had to stop every so often to catch my breath.
About forty-five minutes into my hike, the trail got extremely steep; almost like I was climbing straight up. My pathway snaked skyward through thick stands of Aspen and Ponderosa pine. The view was both beautiful and daunting. I’m in shape from running and playing basketball. But my legs were burning and my chest was pounding.
As I climbed over a big ridge, I had to stop for air. Sweat was pouring off my body. I thought: If there’s another two hours like this I don’t know if I can make it.
Up to that point, I had not seen anyone else on the path. But then this older gentleman came around a curve, headed down the mountain. He wore a t-shirt, shorts and hiking shoes and carried a walking stick. He seemed cool and calm. And he read me pretty well.
As we passed, he said something that changed my whole perspective. He smiled kindly and said in a calm voice: “You are closer than you think.”
Hearing those words, I felt rejuvenated, as if he’d breathed new life into my lungs. Energy surged through my body. My legs grew stronger. I caught a second wind. From that point forward, with every stride I repeated those words of encouragement: “I will make it. I’m closer than I think.”
Even though the climb was difficult; even though my muscles and lungs were burning, I kept saying, “I’m almost to the top. I know I can make it.” And sure enough, just ten minutes later, I clambered over these big boulders and there was a beautiful sight: The summit.
According to the sign at the base, it was supposed to be a three hour hike. But I’d made it in just under an hour! I was much closer than I’d thought when I passed that gentleman on the trail. Yet, without his encouraging words I might have turned around. I might have talked myself out of continuing because I thought I had two more hours to go.
The other hiker knew I was just ten minutes from my goal. My perspective was limited, and so was my thinking. I only knew what I’d read on the sign. When the older fellow came down from the mountain top, he gave me a fresh perspective. He knew more about the trail ahead of me, just as God knows more about what lies ahead for you.
I don’t know where you are headed, what your dreams are, or how many obstacles you have to overcome. But I encourage you to let these words reach deep down into your spirit. Receive them by faith.
You are closer than you think.
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