Hurry up, guys!” Michael yelled. “I want to climb the rocks at the top before we have to head back down for lunch!”
“Settle down,” his brother called back while struggling up a steeper section of the trail. “You’ve scrambled up every boulder we’ve passed so far. Haven’t you done enough climbing for today?”
“Oh, let him have his fun,” the boys’ dad said as he caught up to Michael’s brother. “This is your brother’s first time visiting Colorado. We’re almost there, Michael, and then you can do all the climbing you want.”
Before long, they’d reached the top of the mountain where the trail ended at a crystal-clear glacial lake. Michael raced off toward some nearby boulders, while his dad and brother set their bags down by a picnic table. Michael didn’t have any large rocks to climb back home, so he’d been making up for it in the Rocky Mountains.
Soon Michael had scaled all the nearby boulders. Now a little bored, he eyed the steep rock face that loomed above the shimmering body of water. It doesn’t look that difficult, Michael thought. Plus, I’ll bet the view from up there is amazing!
Deciding he was ready to take his adventure to the next level, Michael approached the base of the rock face. It was tall, but not so tall that Michael felt uneasy about climbing it. He looked at the other people ascending and was emboldened by their lack of safety equipment. With adventure in his heart and adrenaline in his veins, Michael started his climb.
It was easy at first. This is just like climbing the boulders, he thought. I’ll reach the top in no time! The adventure continued to go smoothly until he got to a part where he couldn’t climb any higher. There were no more hand- or footholds above him within reach. Undeterred, Michael began downclimbing so he could find another way up. He made it only a few feet down when he realized he was trapped. The young climber was sixty feet up with nowhere to go.
Clinging to the rock face, Michael desperately scanned for any way down. His feet and calves burned from the effort of holding himself up by his toes. His hands cramped up as he gripped the side of the rock. Scared, tired, and realizing he couldn’t get back down, Michael did the only thing he could think of in that moment: he prayed. “Heavenly Father, please help me get out of this situation. I got in way over my head, and now I don’t know what to do. Please help me!”
No sooner had he finished praying than Michael heard someone off to his right.
“Hey there! Need some help?”
Michael turned to see the smiling face of a young man just a few feet away.
“It looked like you were stuck trying to climb back down, so I thought I’d come to help you out.”
“Yeah, that would be great.” Michael’s voice quavered as he spoke.
The young man talked Michael through where to put his feet in order to safely escape where he was stranded on the wall. Slowly but surely, Michael made his way to a spot where he regained his confidence. At last, he made his way to the bottom.
Feeling relieved, Michael thanked the rock climber who’d helped him. Expecting to be chastised for climbing recklessly and getting himself stuck, Michael was in for a surprise. The man didn’t say anything of the sort. Instead, he told Michael about a time when he was in a similar situation and had to be helped by someone. He helped Michael realize that these situations weren’t something to be ashamed of, but something that could be learned from.
Years later, Michael went back to that same lake with some friends. A few of them decided to climb the same rock face. This time, Michael was able to reach the top with no problems. As he stood at the summit, he remembered when he’d gotten stuck on the wall. Funny how time, practice, and experience changes things. Maybe what’s true for rock climbing is also true in other parts of life, Michael thought. Time would tell. One thing was certain: he’d ask God to be with him every step of the way.