Everest. What do you think of when you hear that word?
Years ago when I met Jake, he was into mountaineering. Among the stuff he brought into our marriage, with the sleeping bags and climbing gear and big boots, were some books about mountain expeditions around the world.
I myself never liked climbing but I loved reading the adventure stories, especially about Everest, the world’s highest mountain.
A few years ago, I found an old book by Amy Carmichael, written in 1933, called Rose from Briar, a collection of letters she had written during a long season of illness.
I was curious – and pleased — to see a chapter titled ‘Everest.’ Someone else valued the Everest stories like me.
Carmichael quoted an article from The London Times about the 2nd British Reconnaissance Expedition to Mount Everest in 1922. Neither the 1st nor the 2nd expedition made it to the summit, so the chairman was asked “Why climb Everest?” Here’s his answer:
“Not only for mountaineering will the standard be raised, but for other fields of human activity as well. Many who have never been near the mountain have been thrilled by descriptions of the climber’s efforts to reach the summit, and have been spurred on by them to higher achievement of their own.
“Everest stands for all that is highest, purest, and most difficult of attainment. As the climbers struggle gasping towards the summit they will be putting heart into all who are striving upward in whatever field. This knowledge also puts heart into themselves.
“So in the words of Somervell (a doctor / climber on the team), written on the day after his splendid failure, ‘The fight is worth it – worth it every time.’”
Then Carmichael wrote: “True valor lies, not in what the world calls success, but in the dogged going on when everything in the man says STOP. That is the undernote of these books (the Everest books) — the refusal of softness — that is what gripped me in the story.”
Carmichael then told of her meeting Dr. Somervell. Something that is unrecorded in any of the books written about that famous climb came out by chance in that conversation.
Carmichael asked Dr. Somervell about the last day’s struggle, when they discussed whether they should try for the summit or not. He told her of his pocket New Testament and its word to him that morning: Aim at what is above. (Colossians 3:1) That verse gave Somervell resolve to try.
Then Carmichael wrote “Often during these months of illness that verse has come and spoken to me. It has shamed slackness and cowardice; it has set me climbing again.”
I am grateful for Amy Carmichael’s example. Her words put heart into me for this life toward God. And I hope they set you climbing again, too.
“The dogged going on . . .” Stay in God’s love and grace.
“The refusal of softness . . .” Trust in His Spirit’s presence and help.
“Aim at what is above . . .” Keep your hope in Christ.
This is what I think of when I hear the word Everest.