Climbing the Hill Mountain

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by Patrick Laney, Cynthiana Presbyterian Church

It was my third week of not selling books my first summer of college. I arrived at yet another house on a street that required climbing 10-12 steps to reach the elevation of the yard.


Already sweating before lunch, I climbed the steps and walked across the yard to the front door. I placed my green bag of unsold books next to the door, rang the doorbell, and took four steps back—just as I had been trained.
The only noise I heard was the rattling of a chain coming from around the house.
My heart was soon aware that nothing good could be at the end of something requiring a chain, yet I remained frozen. Blankly staring at the door, I caught a glimpse of a black, growling animal turning the corner of the house at a high speed.
In a single second, I calculated that there was not time to grab my bag; there was a chance I might die. I fought off the urge to release the orange juice and water in my system and quickly threw my body to take three long strides toward the street and dive limb-over-limb down the hill.
With breaths coming more rapidly than my thoughts, I began to collect myself on the sidewalk below. I slowly climbed back up the hill. As my eyes reached high enough to see the former battlefield, a black Doberman paced between a small bush and the green intruder now perched by the door. A few more loud growls were offered … and then silence.
The silence was a relief for a moment. My new “best friend” slowly walked to the bag, raised a left rear leg and baptized all my unsold goods.
I slumped down the hill in temporary defeat. Eventually, I crept back up the hill multiple times until the territory was surrendered. With one desperate spring, I retrieved the bag. Now I was left to find a good hose before taking on the next hill.
Wintley Phipps, the talented singer and pastor, tells a story of “an ol’ Southern Black Woman who had more sense by accident than most of us have on purpose” sharing invaluable wisdom with him about facing difficult times.
She told him, “If the mountain were smooth, you couldn’t climb it.”
I think if Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and the disciples could tell us about climbing mountains, their wisdom would not be much different.
I find my life’s happiness is not found most often in how smooth the mountain is, but my gratitude for the gifts God has given me to climb it. I hope all of us can find the strength to climb as God leads us. And if you pray for relief…be specific.