As you read this in church, I am in the San Bernardino Mountains, picking up Sean at the Synod Youth Team Planning Retreat. The retreat began Friday. In the aftermath of the storm Thursday, I called the retreat center and asked about road conditions: The center director explained that they were snowed in, so she wasn’t sure how the roads were, but the plows were coming. I shared my concern about getting Sean to the center, because I’d be driving a Prius with no chains. She let out her breath in a long, troubled sigh: “Come early in the day and drive slowly” was her advice.

Sean reached out to Pastor Janet, one of the retreat organizers. She told him she would be arriving in a heavy vehicle with chains, and, if the road was too tough for the Prius, she would drive down to town and pick him up. Just knowing we had help available made the drive out there on Friday pleasant and worry-free. When we arrived, we found plowed roads with just enough slush to make the ascent interesting, and the Prius made it to the center.

Driving home, I reflected on the peace of mind Pastor Janet had given me by her gracious offer of assistance. I thought of all the climbs we make in life – out of sadness and despair, toward hope and new beginnings. Those climbs can be daunting, can seem impossibly slippery and difficult. But when we remember there are good people in our lives, ready and eager to help us, we can let the fear fall away and concentrate on the ascent. And when we remember that God is always ready to help us climb, and to catch us when we slip and fall, we can climb with strength and purpose. We can reach heights that would be impossible on our own.

Whatever mountain you are facing, remember you are surrounded by loving friends in faith who want to see you climb it, who want to help you climb it. Be brave enough to ask for help, be humble enough to accept it, be bold enough to begin climbing. And our Lord will be beside you every step of the way, taking you to the top.

“…[T]hose who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31