Guest Devotional by Chris Codding, OKC, OK - The Light Guides Us To The Summit

March 26, 2024

 Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 18:28

For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.

Proverbs 6:23

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.

 

Devotional:

On my many trips to big mountains, you learn how important your gear is. While you only bring essentials, some of the things you carry are more important than other items. Some items are of want, such as a book or a camera or extra set of socks, for example. But some items are taken out of need and it among these items that one stands above others, an item that your life can depend on.

 

In my adventures in the outdoors, outings escalated over the years. They started as camping in the backyard on a summer’s night, to weekend camping trips with my Boy Scout Troop, to multi-week hiking trips in the 8,000-12,000ft mountains of New Mexico, to then technical ascents on higher and colder Colorado mountains of 14,000ft to multi-week trips to then 18,000-20,000ft peaks in Ecuador to eventually month-long, self-sufficient expeditions in sub-zero temperatures to the highest mountain in South America located in Argentina at nearly 23,000ft and the highest mountain in North America located in Alaska at over 20,000ft.

 

Indeed, our lives follow similar progressions. Our goals start small as our abilities are built. We build ourselves slowly, go through trial and error and seek out who best to teach us and what books to read. The learning process can be slow, have setbacks or sudden gains, but there are no short-cuts to be certain. As life progresses, our abilities and goals progress too. But so do our responsibilities and so do the consequences for missteps. The stakes rise.

 

When you go to mountain, whether it’s in Colorado or in Argentina, your journey begins by what’s called an ‘alpine start’ meaning you embark on your climb well before the sun comes up, sometimes even leaving at midnight or 1am with many hours of darkness ahead. We do this for many reasons weather, it be to maximize climbable weather before afternoon storms build, or to traverse snow covered glaciated terrain in the coldest part of the day when the snow bridges are strongest lessening your chance of falling through, or to avoid ice and rock fall hazard that occur in the warmest part of the day.

 

Thinking of the gear taken on my every increasing trips to the mountains, my headlamp was the essential piece of equipment on every trip. Why? It’s as simple as this, if you cannot see during one of these technical, big mountain climbs, you will likely kill yourself or others on your team.  Really, Chris? Your headlamp? Don’t be dramatic. What about….(name it)?   I will answer you this way….

 

You can pack in to one tent if the other got destroyed by wind, replace a lost glove with a teammates spare (or just go without the glove and later lose your fingers or hand to frostbite, but you will still live), share a stove if yours broke, go hungry due to lost food or slowly dehydrate without water until you reach the next camp or borrow fuel from another team if yours was lost. But a few items on a big mountain will cause such instant turmoil and imminent catastrophe as losing your individual ability to shine light for even just the first 36 inches around you. That’s it, about a 36-inch-wide beam of light that shines just a few feet in front of you is the difference between things going well or finding yourself in a struggle with extremely serious consequences. If you lose your headlamp, you will not be able to set up a belay station, know where to place your ice axes, work your jumars, clip in to the ropes safely, place snow, ice or rock protection, set up your tent, manage your belay device, tie knots correctly, light your stove, see snow markers, find your tent or know if you are even on route, just to name a few.

 

You will instantly begin to operate in a life and death situation.

 

As objective and understandable as the situation I just described on a big mountain is, why do we so often not allow God’s word to be lamp unto our feet in our daily life? Is it that we can become so comfortable and complacent in our journey? While we may not physically feel like we are on a 22,000-foot mountain in subzero temperatures hanging on by the sharp points of the ice axes in our hands and the crampons strapped to our boots, we indeed are. Just in another way that is unseen. While we do not always face easily observed objective hazards such as avalanche or rockfall or incorrect rope work or becoming off-route… we face more subtle, but no less lethal hazards such as apathy, pride, temptation, wrath, envy, materialism, and list can go on and on.

We are fooling ourselves if we do not think disaster can come to us in a heartbeat if we are not allowing God’s word to guide our daily steps. You, me, everyone… we all have experienced falling short of God’s ideals in an instant. Think about a time when you fell short of God’s desires. Where was His word at that time? I’ll bet you that your headlamp was off at the time. I know mine was.

 

And not only thinking of ourselves, but do we not have others on our team that depend on us? As men, we called to lead those we have the privilege to have influence over.

 

In climbing, there is a phrase all who learn roped climbing are taught in climbing schools and read in climbing handbooks and told to hold paramount, “The Leader Must Not Fall.” While you are on a mountain or alpine route, we are tied into each other’s harness. If you fall, everyone falls. You will physically bring down the others at force and as a responsible climber you are keenly aware of this at all times. You must be. You rely on your carefully built abilities, your former experiences, your training and with your headlamp on where to physically apply these decisions.

 

Just like on the mountain with our team, every day we have a team. It is comprised of our spouse, children, families, co-workers, communities, and many other circles “tied in” to us. We have a responsibility not to fall.

 

God tell us clearly, His word is the headlamp to our feet, and guide to our path. Jesus tells us clearly, ‘Come to me.’ We journey not to the tallest mountain on a continent or to the summit of some great peak in a remote mountain range. We journey to somewhere far more sacred and special. We journey to the inner chamber of abiding in Christ.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank you for the gift of your love and the invitation to abide in your Son, Jesus.  As we go through the mountains in our lives, help us to always heed the instruction to use your word as the lamp unto our feet and guide to our path. Give us the strength to overcome obstacles and challenges we face and let our weaknesses be perfected in You. Open our eyes to see the beauty of the journey you lay before us and to rejoice in the splendor of your work all around us. Give us the strength to lead those you have entrusted to us to grow closer in an abiding relationship with your Son, Jesus. We ask this to be especially true for our families and the generations to follow so that your kingdom may be glorified on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.