Every once in awhile, you get to a moment where, one way or the other, you realize this moment is a little bigger than the rest. This weekend was one of those moments. I took some time to try and wrap my head around all of it. I haven’t completely gotten there yet, so these words might be more for my benefit an anything else, but I thought I would share and perhaps others can find some encouragement from them as well.

Mountains3

I have climbed just real one mountain in my life. It was the summer of 2004, the summer I spent in Alaska. We did a lot of “outdoorsy” things that summer. Fished for salmon, hiked a lot, camped in the wilderness, wrestled bears (only half joking). We were rugged. And I climbed my one and only mountain. With my friends David and Devin, we set out. Devin and I were not experienced climbers, David, however, was.  He led the way. It started out simple enough, not that different from any wilderness hike you might go on at any state park. It was exciting. Easy, even. The end was not in our mind. It certainly wasn’t a concern.  As we went further and further along the way, that changed. We climbed higher and higher, the landscape changed with it. We had to climb over and through streams and rivers, up rock faces, through mud and snow. We had to rely on each other to make it to the top. Devin dropped off somewhere in the middle and it was just the two Davids left to make it the rest of the way. The path kept going and going…and going…and going…and going. We passed the tree line. The point where there is not enough oxygen in the air for trees or much vegetation at all, to grow. It got cold and we were literally climbing through the clouds. We could not see more than a few feet ahead of us. The end was not visible. Near the top of the mountain, David went ahead. I lost sight of him. He was quiet. As I continued on, I was by myself. The end had to be near, right? How much more of this can there be? When suddenly, I see David, standing, looking back at me, camcorder in hand, waiting for me to emerge from the fog. He had a huge smile on his face. He said: “You made it! We’re here!”

On the morning of August 21, 2000, a boy from Omaha took his first college class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. On the morning of August 15, 2014, a Lincoln man took his final one at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, six days shy of 14 years.

It rained, it rained a lot, that August 2000 morning. It only lasted about 20 minutes, the time it took me to walk home from Andrews Hall back to my dorm room in Schramm. By the time I got back I was soaking wet. My roommate was still asleep. An inauspicious start to a rather inauspicious academic journey.

I thought I knew what it was doing. I thought I knew where I was going. It turns out the path I would take would be very different than the one I had so confidently and carefully planned in my head.

There is so much that has happened in that time, to try and comprehend, all of it and process through isn’t possible. Forget about dialoguing it. Not in this context anyway. If I had described the way my life looks now to 18 year-old me in 2000, I would have been petrified. Nothing would have gone right, I would have thought. But that’s not the case. Not everything did go as I had planned. Very little of it, in fact, but Romans 8:28 (And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose) has proved it’s truth time and time again. There is no way I could have charted the course my life has taken in that time. Lately, Proverbs 16:9 (The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.) has helped me remember that I am not the one in control, because this is certainly not the script I would have written. In many ways it has been a very difficult journey. It’s been full of seemingly wrong turns and missteps and failures and ever changing terrain, barely able to make out the end destination, yet I’ve seen how the Lord as used each of them in part of something I am only beginning to realize.

One thing I’ve learned, one of many things, is that very few get to follow the path they envisioned at the start of the journey. That path may carry more pitfalls and more jagged edges than others, but rarely is anyone’s life easy in this world, but I have seen so many things, things I thought of as inconsequential become a key piece of the puzzle. I’ve seen the random become ordered. Everything has been a part of the equation and I believe it will continue to be.

The other thing I’ve learned is that I cannot do this alone. I did not do this alone. There have been so many people that have come alongside and helped me get here. Some of them I recognized as part of the journey, many I did not. Many were a part of the journey for a long time. Others were just for a season, but I did not get to the top of this mountain without all of it. In so many ways, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve found a home. A place with people that will live life with me, invested in me and allow me to live it with them and invest in them. So many aren’t afforded that. I don’t take it for granted nor lightly.

So, as I stand at the top of one mountain, I am taking a few moments to look back at the beauty that has come out of that journey. To see all the rivers, sharp boulders and wet logs that were crossed as I approached the summit. But I also turn around and recognize there are more mountains to come and see the beauty in that, too. I recognize those hills are full of jagged edges, deep rivers, and ever changing terrain. But, I believe, I choose to believe, they also contain rich reward. I do not know what is next. I’m still largely trying to figure that out and I won’t get the whole picture, that’s not how it works. It will continue to be one step at at time. I’ll continue to make plans with the information I have, trusting that the Author of all things will guide the next step as it comes. That’s all I know how to do.

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