by Bill Sayer

Everest was first conquered by Edmund Hillary, assisted by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, back in May 1953. What is not widely known, is that Hillary planted a small, simple Christian cross in the snow at the summit that originally came from an Abbey at Ampleforth in Yorkshire. Since that time, there have been over 4000 successful individual ascent attempts.

To make an ascent these days, it is necessary to make the relatively straight-forward ascent to one of the two Base Camps, and acclimatize at that altitude (5364m above sea level for South Base Camp) before attempting the climb to the top (8848m above sea level). There are many locals who will assist in directing climbers to Base Camp. Although it can be rocky and uneven in parts, it is a well-trodden path that is not precipitous nor requires any rock climbing or mountaineering equipment.

All of this speaks to me of our spiritual journey. There are many who will assist and point out the way to salvation (like directions to Base Camp). Once we have acclimatized for a short while at this elevation, we are ready for the main point of our journey – to make our own unique journey to the summit, following in the footsteps of Jesus and the many saints who have successfully gone before.

Mountaineers have not “arrived” when they reach Base Camp. Likewise, we have not arrived when we accept Christ as our Saviour. There is a journey of discipleship that we must all travel, for there is a way marked out for each one of us. Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me(Matthew 16:24).

What does this mean for us? Jesus, like Hillary the mountaineer, is our role model; someone to emulate. Although each of our journeys in discipleship may be a little different, we will all need to develop and adapt to the rarefied atmosphere of problems and issues that we will encounter along the way as we persevere in our spiritual journeys. Discipleship, like mountaineering, is not for couch potatoes (as Sheralyn eloquently told us!), nor does discipleship “just happen” at the Base Camps of Church or Home Church. It is a day-by-day, lifetime adventure, to follow in our Saviour’s footsteps.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1 – 3)