Two weeks ago, my sons and I climbed Camelback Mountain with two other families. We love to go hiking and it is even better when we have some friends come along with us. It’s a great time to hang out and eventually like most things in our family, it turns into a competition. Camelback is a pretty difficult hike and in all we had 3 dads in their 30’s and 40’s and 7 sons between the ages of 6 and 12, do their best to trek the 1.2 mile climb up.
I typically lead the way and set the pace. Camelback was part of my training regime in the offseason when I played minor league baseball. I would lift weights and do my baseball training on the weekdays and then climb Camelback on Saturdays. I would try to scale up and down the mountain in around an hour, where most people take an hour just to get to the top.
I am not one to take many breaks and in order to challenge myself, I try to not use my hands at all. I feel like this will give my legs and core a better workout. Camelback gives you a nice blend of walking trails and vertical points where most people need to use their hands in order to scale the area. The terrain can also be very rocky so finding the right place to set your foot can difficult.
Being patient with others
One family was running a little late, so I was already itching to get moving. When they finally arrived, I was raring to go and looked forward to getting to the top. I figured it would be rude to start jogging ahead of everyone, so we let the boys go in front while the dads were in tow catching up on how their weeks went. One of the older kids had been battling a cold recently and after we got only about a quarter of the way up it was evident that he was calling it a day. His dad said that he would stay behind with him and that we would meet up later.
As much as I disliked the fact that all of us would not make it to the top, I was glad we were moving a little faster now. Small beads of sweat started to form on my brow and I was ready to start kicking it into gear! However, as we continued to scale the mountain more of the boys started to drag behind, which drug down our pace. The group was now getting separated in two with my boys leading the way. I was getting a little aggravated and just wanted to get moving, but these kids had not done this hike before and their dad was hanging back with their sick brother.
Being a real life example of grace and compassion
That little voice inside my head started telling me what I needed to do. So like any good person, I did my best to ignore it…..ok, not really. I desperately wanted to take off and attack the mountain, but I realized that these boys needed me more than I needed a workout. I told the other dad to go on ahead and I would stay back with these boys. It was an opportunity to show them a real life example of grace and compassion instead of it being lectured to them or hearing about it in church. So I would carry their water bottles for them in my backpack, pull them out when they needed a drink and wait as they traversed sloooowwwwly up the rocky terrain.
While this benefited the boys, I received just as much in return. A lot of my recent readings have been about these exact things and how we have received God’s unmerited favor and blessings even though we don’t deserve them. By nature we can be very selfish and stubborn, yet Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us when he took those nails on the cross for our sins. He showed us what true grace and compassion look like though his actions and his endless love for us.
It took us a while, but we finally made it to the top. My boys gloated when we got there knowing that they beat me, but I just smiled and told them good job. I’ll just smoke them in basketball when we get home to even the score. The kids were now a mile high and had the chance to see the Phoenix area like they had never been able to before. Their sense of accomplishment was more rewarding to me than trying to beat my personal best time up the mountain. One of them was pretty gassed and now realized that he still had to go back down. Looks like I’ll be hanging with him for the next hour…..
Here are some points to think about when practicing grace:
Give of yourself
Actions speak louder than words
Christlikeness is the ultimate goal