This summer, I had the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park. It is truly an amazing place – stunning in its views and vistas.
At the heart of Yosemite is El Capitan – 3000 feet of sheer granite, and one of the most challenging rock climbs in the world. What does it take to reach the top of “El Cap,” which includes places to navigate with names like: the Boulder Problem, Monster Offwidth, Lung Ledge, and The Sewer? There’s only one way: by taking it one step, and one handhold, at a time.
So, to reach the top of El Cap, one starts with the Big Picture: Let’s go climb this thing. And then there’s the reality of doing it, one move at a time, for 3000 feet. Three years ago, Alex Honnold did it in a way no one else has ever done – he climbed El Cap without any equipment. It’s called Free Soloing – where Alex climbed to the top with no rope, no harnesses, no help, no safety net – just a man and a mountain.
How did he do it? Well, first he had to give himself fully to the task at hand. Watch the movie about Alex’s feat, and you’ll see how much he prepared, he trained, he studied El Cap. He made conquering the mountain his passion and his pursuit. To climb 3000 impossible feet of granite, he had to know the mountain, and know himself.
Of course, he then had to go out and do it – one step and one handhold at a time. As he free-soloed El Cap, do you think Alex was thinking about the tricky toe-hold that was 18 steps away? Do that, and he likely doesn’t reach the top. The only way for him to conquer a mountain is to do the 2 steps and the 2 handholds that are right in front of him.
So often, I find myself thinking about what will happen next. What’s coming for our country? What’s happening to the Church? Where are we going? Where am I going? Often, I find it much easier to worry about the future than to live in the present. But when I consider the foundational question: What is God’s will for me? – the answer is less about what I will do, and more about where I am. God’s will is less about planning for what might happen, and more about living faithfully in the realty of what is.
The truth is: we are all on a journey. For many of us the journey feels more like a climb – and for some of us, it may even feel like we’re climbing El Capitan. If so, the great mountain climbers can teach us a thing or two: Give yourself fully to the task at hand. Know the mountain, and know yourself. And don’t worry about the tricky, uncertain steps that may lie ahead; instead, focus on the steps and handholds that are right in front of you.
Maybe that’s why Jesus teaches us in pray for our daily bread. Maybe it’s an encouragement to us to invite God into where we are right now; recognizing that our focus should be our dependence on God for what is right in front of us; giving Him what our hands are doing right now, and following Him where our feet are going right now. Maybe praying for our daily bread is the foundation of faith – and a cry to be at the center of God’s will. God, be here – right here, where I am. God provide what I need – right now.
And I’ll trust Him in this day. In this situation. Following Him and holding on to Him, whatever life brings our way. Wherever the journey takes us, trusting that we’re not alone; He’s faithful. This gives us the freedom to tackle the trail, when the steps are smooth, and when they are precarious. It gives us the strength to move up the mountain – when we’re holding on firmly, and when it feels like we’re barely hanging on. It gives us the confidence to pursue His will, For God is with us. Every step of the way.