The Gift

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.