Hi, my name is Penny Lyon. I’m a singer-songwriter with the Christian band, Out of the Ashes. Welcome to God Today. Today I want to talk to you about a friend who climbed Kilimanjaro. Now, I don’t know whether you’re familiar with Kilimanjaro, but it’s the highest mountain on the African continent. It is a big thing. I’ve never climbed it. I’ve climbed some hills in the Cotswolds and I’ve climbed some hills in Wales, but not a big hill climber.
But this friend was invited by a group of people who wanted to raise money for gynecological needs in Africa. They were all doctors and nurses and gynecologists themselves, but they asked this one woman who was a friend of theirs if she wanted to join them. Her immediate thought was, that sounds like fun. And she talked to her husband and said, “Yeah, I’ll come and do that!”
And then they started the training and then she started finding out what climbing Kilimanjaro might be like. And she realized that well, people die when they’re climbing Kilimanjaro. This is a tough climb. So she thought about her family and the work that she had to do. And she thought I’ve got to be responsible here. I’m a mum. I’m not 26 anymore. She was in her early fifties. I need to actually think about whether this is a sensible thing to do. So she politely backed out.
Then God had something to say about it. And He made it quite clear to her that “No, I want you to climb Kilimanjaro and I will be there with you. And I want you to go and I want you to come back and I want you to tell people about it.” So she went through the training and she lost a few dress sizes without a shadow of a doubt. She had to get lots of new clothes.
And then they left and they started the climb. Now what happens is you go in a group and you are accompanied by guides. Now when anybody does a walk as a group of any sort, you get those that want to run on ahead and you get those that kind of stick together in the middle and chat and look after each other. And then you get the strugglers who are behind, who are looking at the flowers on the way, and so on and so forth.
But what she noticed is that the guides were constantly saying this phrase, “Pole pole, pole pole.” Now it turns out that “pole pole” means slowly take your time. And there was a very good reason for it, because if you didn’t take your time, you would get altitude sickness. You need to acclimatize to the changes in air pressure as you get higher. So take your time, get your lungs used to the air pressure as you go on to new heights. Quite a simple matter of safety.
So they went up the mountain in that pole pole fashion. And then they got almost to the top and on the very last night of the climb, the guide said, “Right, you’re going to go to bed at six o’clock in the evening.” And they all went to bed at six o’clock in the evening, probably grumbling a bit because it was quite early. And then they got up at 12 and they had to break camp, pack everything up, and move on 12 o’clock at night in pitch darkness. And they climbed on up the last bit of the mountain so that they arrived at the peak of Kilimanjaro, just as the sun was starting to rise.
Now, of course, it was breathtakingly beautiful. And of course, they all did their thing of “something we’ve achieved together.” And they swore undying loyalty to one another for the rest of their days and all that stuff you do when you’ve done something you’re really proud of together. And then she said to her guide, “Why in Heaven’s name did you make us go all the way up there, go to bed at a ridiculous hour at night, and then have to climb in the darkness? When we could actually have got up at a sensible time, been feeling great, and climbed in daylight?” And he said something that stayed with her – “Because if you had been able to see what you had to achieve that day, you wouldn’t have had the courage to do it. It was essential that you climbed in darkness.
And of course, what God was saying to her is what I want you to go home and do is to give people a pictorial way of understanding why, first of all, He tells us to go slowly, to take our time, to get used to each new step of the walk that He has given us in our lives. And the other thing is that sometimes He doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen. Sometimes we’re longing for God to say, “This is what you’re going to do on Tuesday. This is what you’re going to do on Wednesday. And this is how it’s gonna turn out.”
But He never does. He leaves us not knowing what’s coming. And that’s for two reasons. One is that very often we would not be able to cope with the journey, in spite of the fact He’s there every step of the way. And sometimes we wouldn’t learn the lessons we need to learn through not knowing what’s going to happen. So I have a Bible reading that relates to this. It’s Isaiah 40:31. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”
I’d like to pray with you. Father God, we ask You to show us Your will, Your pace of life. We know that we so often want to run ahead. We know that so often we don’t wait for You. We don’t listen for You. Father God, we really want to place ourselves in Your hands so that we could make the journey that You want us to make at Your pace so that we can learn from it and enjoy the run of being with You every step of the way. Thank You, Father. Amen. Thank you.