Climbing towards the peak of a mountain, you cross a high-alpine meadow covered in flowers and thick moss. The trail climbs steeply out of the forest, and you are on an exposed rock face. But it’s fine because you can see the peak above you. All morning you have seen more of the mountain beyond what’s in front of you, but now the summit is in view.
Except that it isn’t.
You get to the top of a rocky knoll and realize that the mountain flattens out, then re-starts its ascent for several hundred meters more into the clouds.
Parts of a mountain that look like the top when you’re on the way up, and then crush your hopes and steal away all your contentment.
The thing about false summits is that honestly, we should see them coming. If you had a good map with you when you were hiking, you could easily glance down and realize you are not at the top. If you knew you weren’t at the end, nothing would be tricking you.
Living contentment is not going to happen when we keep getting crushed by the false summits in life.
Sure, on one hand, we have no idea when we’ll die, so we really don’t know ‘the finish.’ However, we are often crushed because we hoped we were at the end of something but had no real reason to assume that were true.
In fact, many times we hope we’re at the end of something hard, even when all data points to the fact that we’re not.
In the trauma counseling that we went through following our attack, our counselor quite often told us that 18 months was the normal time frame for recovery. However, there were numerous times in the middle of it when I thought: “no, actually I’m doing pretty good – I think I’m almost done with this.”
Then I’d slide back, get hit with something different, and have another hill to climb. The false belief that I was almost done just made it harder.
Oftentimes this thought can come from a sneaky form of arrogance: “sure other people take 18 months on average…but I’m different….”
At the very least, we need to read the maps that are given to us. Listen to the advice we get. If someone says “when you get to that meadow, it’s still 2 hours to the top” don’t think to yourself “well, maybe for you…”
There are enough things in this life that steal our contentment, we don’t need to create more ourselves.
What thing are you facing right now that you feel “I should be done with this”?
What advice have you chosen to ignore?
What map have you neglected?
If there’s some hard thing you’re in right now that you really feel should be done – think about why it is you think that.
God of patience,
Lord of perfect timing,
You know what I’m facing right now,
And the fact that it’s not over is not a surprise to you.
Give me patience to deal with it,
even when I want it to be done.
Give me peace to rest in you,
when I want to use my own strength to muscle through.
I want to wait for you,
and your perfect timing.