That’s what I said on our hike as we tripped, stumbled, fell and trudged through snow as deep as mid-calf following a virgin snow-covered trail up Bill Williams Mountain. We hiked for hours and never reached the top. By the time, we neared the top, or what we thought was the top, the snow level became an impenetrable obstacle with the trail veering into yet another switchback and deep into more trees. I could see the light above teasing us with thoughts of, “almost there.” I know we skated across the side of the mountain and we could see the backbone of it from where we hiked. A hike that was supposed to take five hours round trip would take considerably longer with this much snow.
So we turned around and discovered the trip back so much easier as we slid and stumbled down the trail, avoiding tree branches and other hidden menaces beneath the white. We found a dry log and ate lunch there, then continued. My pants were soaked through and my skin stung. My socks squished in my waterproof boots. Snow had fallen inside during the climb up, and now kept my toes effectively refrigerated as we climbed down the mountain. We descended according to the website a couple of thousand feet and the air warmed and my legs no longer felt icy, but wet. Mud caked my clothes and I grinned.
Yes, there’s a theology in everything. A theology in climbing. A theology in retreating. A theology in overcoming. A theology in not giving up and returning to the trail when the snow will be gone to reach the summit of the mountain. A theology in knowing when to retreat instead of risking frost bite and sapping away our physical strength when we can’t see the end and the snow continually increases in inches the higher up we climb. Creation reminded me of the challenges in my own life—the daily ones and the infrequent ones that teach me through natural consequences what to do and what not to do.
How many times have you tried to climb when God wanted you to turn around? Sometimes it takes fearlessness to climb, and courage to turn around when God directs you elsewhere.