About thirty years ago a group of youth pastors in Northern California invited me to accompany them on a trip up Mount Shasta. As a forty something I was the old man among all these twenty somethings. At over 14,100 feet it is the fifth highest in California and is still a potentially active volcano. The top is embraced by a heavy scent of sulfur. On the second day as we neared the summit it slowly dawned on me that I was doing very well for an older guy. The young men started lagging. One of them did become ill from the strain in the thinner air. About noon I passed the last two and found myself standing alone on the top. I was feeling very studly as I sat and watched the others arrive.
On the way down I noticed myself being at the end of the line and working to keep up. How could this be? How could I be so comparatively strong going up and not so strong on the way down? Then it dawned on me. (I can be mentally slow.) It was a set up. Those guys had colluded. During the last two thousand feet they deliberately fell back allowing me to summit. They never said a word about it in my hearing range.
I have come to think that Jesus does this for me on a daily basis. He grants me little victories to encourage me on. At the end (or as I should say, “The real beginning.”) He will give me a crown of righteousness. I might be tempted to think that I did it. But when seriously contemplating I will realize how improbable that is. It is a gift as was my summiting Shasta.