Be willing to climb the mountains in your life to reach the waterfall (goal). This last weekend of April 2016 I went for a hike up a mountain with my personal fitness trainer Chris, his girlfriend and a few from the club. I had not climbed any kind of obstacle that large in 4 years so I knew it was going to be a challenge. I actually was kinda nervous and began to doubt myself; listening to the voices in me say things like, “You are going to fail. You’re not healthy enough to conquer that mountain. You will disappoint your personal fitness trainer, and embarrass yourself.” Anyone who knows me in ministry knows I face any obstacles head on without a thought–so this was not my character to be entertaining thoughts such as these. I obviously had issues about my identity that were hiding. Guess the Father knew. (Unless things are exposed you cannot deal with them.)

I finally texted Chris and told him what was up and asked whether I should go or not and to be straight with me. (I was secretly hoping for a way out.) He said, “See ya at the club”. Guess what?–this guy is like a drill sergeant so there was no way in hell I was getting out of this. I was committed. (Nice to have accountability partners in life.) As I got ready after that last text from him, I started to get excited and full of anticipation. I just knew it was going to be all right and if I had any issues I would deal with them as I go. I told the Lord, “If you really wanted me not to go, then You will stop this.” He wanted me to conquer my mountain!!!

I got to the club and there were 3 others waiting to go. It was really nice to know I was not alone. I began to question them to see where they were in their journey of fitness and health and to feel them out to see if I was going to be surrounded by show-offs. Nope, they were awesome! We all loaded up into two separate vehicles and off to the mountain we went.

The pain began before I got out of the parking lot. The pain in my shins already began before I left the parking lot. I know that seems pretty pathetic right!? I did not stretch, I obviously did not drink enough water, and plain and simple–I was not in shape. Oh, boy here we go. Many of us are still sitting in the parking lot of our lives. I hope you can see where I am going with this in relation to our own personal walk with the Lord and our spiritual muscles. We must fill up by abiding in His presence and gain strength there. We must use the tools (presence, worship & word) He has given us to exercise our muscles or be at risk failing greatly through laziness.

It helps to have partners for accountability and motivational purposes. If that is just the Lord then so be it, but I can assure you one way or another you will die to yourself and your own desire and will. Have you exercised and trained yourself for the next phase in your life? Or will you be consumed when faced with a trying situation?

We walked a mile before we even got to the trail head and my calves hurt so badly, OMG! Chris was not touchy feely, softy kinda motivator either…HAHA Oh no, he was like, “Get moving. No resting. Pick up your feet. Take bigger strides; heel to toe. I will not take ‘No’ or ‘I cannot do this’ for an answer. You can do it!” “But Chris, I hurt and need to massage my calves.” “NO, you can when you get to the trail head.” Well just so you know, I was 1 or so miles up the road which was at an incline.

Finally at the trail head I made it there…WOW! Who knew that not even being on the path that would require me to climb a rugged trail to the top of the mountain would be so hard–where I would get to partake of the flowing water fall. One of the gals there said to my trainer, “Is she even going to be able to make it? It’s 6.8 miles!” Chris said very swiftly without doubt or hesitation in his voice, “YES!” See, Chris has been doing this for over 16 years so he knows. I felt hopeful when he said that. My trainer’s girlfriend took up the responsibility to carry my back pack. She was AMAZING! Those who God puts in your life will help you carry the weight of this world… but just as important (and more important…) Jesus will carry your burdens if you give it to Him and trust Him.

Let me tell you, it took us twice as long to get to the top because of me, but I conquered fears, doubt, unbelief, rejection of my leader/trainer and self because of this journey. We MUST be willing to face something that could potentially cause us death, harm or failure to overcome the mountains in our lives. If you don’t face the obstacles then you will be a failure for never stepping out and be willing to get hurt. Oh, and I want to add here: YOU LISTEN TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO TRAIN YOU! THEY ARE GIFTS TO YOU! I submitted to him and all that he knew.

I want to also say here, during the journey up the mountain through the switchback trails, people were observing me that were not even with us. They were so supportive, and awesome. I kept hearing, “It is worth it! You can do it!” I heard that over and over. Chris also kept saying, “This will be the hardest climb you will ever have to do.” I knew he was right because once you conquer the mega mountain in your life, then everything else that you face becomes pale in comparison and becomes hopeful because you witnessed first-hand what you are capable of.

Made it to the top to where the waterfall was. I want to mention here, right before I reached my goal, the path got really hard and rugged. Expect things to become truly hard right before you conquer or receive your breakthrough. Anyway, I was so proud of myself. I cannot even tell you enough how on top of the world I am. It was so worth it, not only for the breath taking view but because what happened to me personally will change me forever. DO NOT GIVE UP! YOU CAN DO IT! Put your hand to the plow. Don’t look back. Fight the good fight of faith.

I will end this story with something my trainer told me. He would like to see me every weekend for a hike. This will be good for me because I will keep climbing and climbing! After all, the Lord did say I was without limits or borders. I should have known it meant in all arenas in my life.

Joann Carpenter (VICTOR)