Big Ben Basin from Emory Peak elevation 7,825 ft

Keys For Endurance

When our oldest daughter was only nine years old, she and I hiked to the top of Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park, Texas.  We started our hike from our cabin which would be on the edge of the tree line just below the smaller peak in the center of the above picture. We started about 8:45 a.m. in the cool of the morning and reached the rim of the basin by about 11:30 a.m. which was about 3.5 miles by trail.  We were only about one mile from the top, so I set our goal to reach the top if possible.  The next mile was rather difficult, but by about noon we had climbed within a short distance of the top.  Being tired, shaky, and short of breath, we stopped and ate a snack lunch then climbed through some large rock to get on top.  On top the view was astonishing.  The clouds were almost at shoulder level drifting across the lower mountain ranges that surrounded us. The above photo was taken looking back at the basin and the speck of our cabin 4.5 miles away by trail and some 2,400 feet below us.  To give some perspective, it would take a good climber some 45 minutes plus to climb the smaller peak in the middle of the photo.  The next day I was so tired and sore that I could hardly move.  Was it worth it?  You better believe it!!!  Now you can enjoy the picture and the article.

1. One must have a goal worth suffering for.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Hebrews 12:2-4). We must have a DESIRE!  Jesus had the desire to bring us into his kingdom.  We must then set a goal.  Without a goal, there is no since of direction.  There must be short term goals as well as the long term goal.  The mountain top may be our goal, but there will be numerous plateaus along the way as it was with our climb.
2. One must see that he is not alone in the situation.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:   Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).  It is great to have people to support us, but people will sooner or later fail us. My daughter who was great company on the way up to the top of the mountain became fearful on the way back and wanted to give up.  Jesus is the only one who will NEVER leave us.  Furthermore, we can fellowship with Jesus along the trail.
3. One must see that God is sovereign.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up"  (Daniel 3:16-18).  Daniel's friends were commanded to bow before the before the golden image, but refused to do so putting their lives in God's hands.  Yes, we are obey God and to pray, but leave the results in God's hands.  We simply have to trust God to bring us to His desired destination.
4. One must act on the faith that he has.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3).    "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (I Peter 5:10). When we were top of Emory Peak, we were about 4.5 miles by trail away from our cabin which we could see in the distance through my binoculars.  My daughter became very fearful thinking that she could not make it back.  I had to coach her down the mountain by giving her short term goals such as, " Let's just to walk to the next bend in the trail."  Once we arrived within a mile of our cabin, her fear disappeared and she almost left me behind.
5. One must believe that God will work things out for our good.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32).   "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).  God is for us more than we are for ourselves, but we must believe that this is true.  I had to believe that when we got on top of Emory Peak that we would experience God's blessings ... the view of God's creation was beyond description.
6. One must be willing to forgive.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).  One of the greatest weights that one can carry is that of unforgiveness.   "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13).  We must forgive others!  We must also forgive ourselves.  We must allow for some personal errors, otherwise guilt will cause us to stop dead in our tracks.  Yes, we left too late in the morning and it gets quite hot during the middle of the day.  However, we could not allow my mistake to keep us from making the hike.
7. One must learn to REJOICE in the midst of suffering.
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;   Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:2-4).   "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:   But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:12-13).  We have a choice to murmur or rejoice.  God destroyed many in the wilderness because of their murmuring, but set free others from prison who rejoiced in Him.  Complaining also drains away our strength, while rejoicing give us strength.  "... for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10b).
8. One must make a decision to endure.
"They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.  My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise" (Psalms 57:6-7).  Is your heart fixed?   "Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:13-14).  Paul had determined in his heart to go to Jerusalem no matter what the consequences would be. We always have a choice.  I had to decide to endure the hardships of the hike to reach the top.  It takes determination!
9. One must learn to be flexible.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.  And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God"  (Acts 3:1-9).  Divine encounters often occur along the way.  Furthermore, sometimes Holy Spirit will prompt us to take a fork in the trail that we had not planned on taking.  It was only at the point of reaching the rim, that I decided to take the fork to the top of the mountain.
10. One must resist temptation.
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12). Even if we are on the right trail, there will be temptations to make dangerous short cuts.  Abraham was tempted with Hagar.  Saul was tempted to offer a sacrifice himself rather than waiting on Samuel (I Samuel 13:10).  We need to stay on the trail that God has set before us!  "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).  "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight" (Psalms 119:35).  Also, God knows the best way which isn't always the shortest way.    "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;    And patience, experience; and experience, hope:    And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us"  (Romans 5:3-5).  You should know that we had taken several shorter and less strenuous hikes before we took this hike.  Those less difficult hikes prepared us for this more difficult hike.
11. One must count the cost.
"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.    And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.   For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?   Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish" (Luke 14:25-30).  We must count the cost so that we will finish the course.  I have yet to hike without getting exhausted. Sometimes, there are scrapes from falls, sore muscles, lack of breath, and even encounters with unfriendly creatures.
12. One should be accountable to someone.
"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right" (Proverbs 20:11).  We should understand that God often works through authority to encourage and correct us. The Forest Ranger will tell us what to watch out for that we may have a better hike and reach our destination safely. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).  Our hike lasted much longer than we had originally planned; therefore, my wife, who had stayed in the cabin, was about ready to get the Rangers to search for us when we arrived back at the cabin. :-)