Hurdles in the Heights
By Erwin Camacho
Sunrise began, and our entire camp was up ensuring all carried sufficient water and snacks; whatever we wouldn’t need was left. It was our final trip, and our final hike on the beautiful mountains of Colorado. This hike boasted to be the longest and most physically demanding of our excursions in Colorado. What was unknown, and what I came to discover, sat at the top of the Mount of The Holy Cross, at its summit 14,005 ft. above sea level. There, I would surrender something I had still been holding on to for the past year, give up something I thought I had already let go. Yet, still was the sand upon which I stood, thinking myself secure.
Our hike began at a steady pace, and we were quickly covering a lot of ground. We took brief breaks every half hour for sips of water. After about two hours, we could see the tree line at the mountains – the sharp limits of where trees could no longer grow at such an altitude.
While we progressed, one friend flagged, so I joined a group to walk with her at a slower pace, stopping more frequently. It was nice taking more time up the mountain to enjoy the majestic view and the sun’s rays striking the valley and mountain range after pushing aside the clouds. It is true: creation proclaims God’ glory. I could nearly hear “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!” But I worried if the slower pace meant that we might not summit.
Just prior to our ascent, we ran into the rest of our group, who were returning after having spent some time up the summit, and those that I had stayed behind with were tired and turned from the peak to return with the rest of the group. Any other time, I would have simply returned as well, albeit a bit disappointed, but I heard it again: Praise him in the heights! When would I have another opportunity to summit a Fourteener? I received permission from the staff and climbed on.
I could no longer just use my legs to move around; my arms, torso, legs, back were all tested. High up, the temperature is really cold, but I felt warm now that all my muscles were engaged. My body was weak. My mind needed to be more determined to climb so my body would listen. Having to use all of my body to climb up the big rocks and boulders to summit, I felt like I was worshipping God not only with my lips, but with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. I began thanking Him for bringing me to faith, for all He’d done in the last year, all the growth I experienced in summer project, the people he had placed in my life. Then I felt this tug.
I didn’t hear God audibly or anything, but I felt Him pointing out that I was holding back from Him. I knew I wanted to trust God, that I would go wherever he led me, yet deep down, even though I felt him leading me to trust him with my vocation, I ignored that and continued pursuing the education I wanted to get the job I wanted, which I hoped would give me financial security and independence. Surely, I could follow God and give him everything except for my job, right? I could give to the church and to missions with what I made. Truth be told, this was not merely a matter of what job I’d have, it was a matter of who I trusted most. Suddenly the air felt thinner, and my body heavier. The rocks I climbed seemed more difficult than when I began. What was this feeling? Conviction.
Who was I to think of myself as having all that authority? Who was I that I trusted my own plans? Did I not see these mountains? They were here before I was conceived and will be around long after I die. Who made those mountains? Who sustains them? He who sustains my very being. I see a flash of lightning afar, and I remember God’s power. How has he been so patient with me?
“I’m sorry, Lord. I have been seeking to be in control. I have been wanting to go my own way. Although it seems scary, I let go of my own plans and surrender them to you.”
I hurdled the last rock to reach the top. A cloud surrounded the summit, but a wind blew the cloud away. The view felt like freedom.
Erwin Camacho is on part-time staff with Cru's campus field team at George Mason University. He enjoys long walks on the beach, and the world is his beach. One of his favorite things about the outdoors is that it combines two of his life biggest passions: God and science.