DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Into Thin Air

DayBreaks for 4/17/17: Into Thin Air

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I recently finished reading Into Thin Air, about the tragic ascent on Mt. Everest that was attempted 2 years ago this month.  A horrible storm swept in while several teams were making their final ascent on the summit.  The result: the highest single death toll for any mountain-climbing incident in history. 

In the May 9 issue of World magazine, Kevin Cusack wrote an article “When Strength Fails”.  Kevin was a friend and climbing partner of Scott Fischer, the man who led the American assault on the summit.  Scott was one of the many who died, frozen to death high up on the side of Everest.  Kevin told of a climb he’d made with Scott about 20 years ago in the Wind River Range of Wyoming:  “The next day, Scott, another climber and I set out on a particularly difficult climb.  After a few hours we found ourselves…on a very narrow ledge.  Below us lay about 3,000 feet of “free space”, commonly known as air.  In front of us lay a 4-foot gap, and above that and to our right was a very smooth nose, which we had to make our way around in order to continue to climb higher.  The move required us to drop across the 4-foot gap, grab a fingertip ledge about 18 inches above our heads, and work our way around the nose using only our fingertips.”

“Because the rock was so smooth, we were unable to find any crack into which to clip our rope; therefore the first climber had to attempt the move unroped, since if he were to fall he would take the 2 other climbers roped to him with him.  All was very quiet as each man waited for someone else to volunteer to go unroped.  Scott’s boldness was being challenged, and in the end he agreed to go first.  Then he did a very curious thing.  He knelt on that thin ledge on one knee for a few seconds, made the sign of the cross, and stood up.  Surprised, I asked, “Scott, what’s the deal?”  He simply replied, “Sometimes you never know.”  …Scott knew many things, but he did not know the answers to life’s most important questions.  One of Scott’s teammates on his fatal Everest climb 2 years ago said, ‘Scott was like a god to us, so strong, fast, and bold, but in the end he was only Scott and he died.'”

Galen’s Thoughts: Scott Fischer was called by Newsweek “one of the strongest climbers in the world”.  He was the guy to be with when you were in a difficult spot.  His confidence got people through the scariest times.  He led people into thin air.  But “he was only Scott and he died”.  Many people today are leading others into dangerous places – into thin air spiritually – rejecting Scripture, presenting a sinful Jesus and telling us that we can determine on our own what is right and wrong, that we only answer to ourselves.  An intoxicating doctrine.  But it is the same lie Satan told Eve.  In the end, these people are only people…and they will die, as Scott died.  Trusting them will be fatal.

Scott hadn’t been a believer.  Kevin prays that while Scott was alone on the wind-swept summit in the -100 degree temperatures that he reached out to God.  We won’t know until the dawn of eternity what happened with Scott.  What can we learn from the fatalities?  Simply this: if your faith is in your strength or anything but God, it will fail you.  2 Tim 4:18: The Lord will rescue me…and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.

PRAYER:  Father, we put far too much trust in our own wisdom, knowledge and abilities.  Forgive us, Father, for such foolishness.  Help us realize that only in You is found safety.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

DayBreaks for 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

I try to get into the gym 5 times a week to exercise.  I must confess that many days I really don’t want to go in there and exercise.  But I do – primarily because if I don’t, my cardiologist will read me the riot act.  And it helps create the illusion, too, that by exercising, I will live healthy and well forever.  I know that’s an illusion, but it’s one that I like to hold close to my heart!

Part of my routine is riding the exercise bike.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  Sure, there are TV’s to watch if you’re so inclined, but I find my time is much better spent if I read something.  Sometimes, it’s a sports or outdoors magazine, sometimes it’s a book that I’m interested in.  Just recently, I was reading Outdoor magazine and they had an article about world-class mountain climbers.  They were recalling some of their harrowing moments on the side of mountains like McKinley, Everest, K2, etc.  One comment that was made by the wife of a climber who had died on Everest really struck me.  She said, “There are many ways to lose your life besides dying.”  In her case, she meant that her husband would have “died” if he’d not been able to climb mountains – to do the thing he so loved.

We live in fear of dying.  We decorate caskets with favorite sports team logos, line them with satin as if they were a jewelry box for holding diamonds.  Our fears can cause us to never take any more risk than is absolutely necessary: we can stay inside, never drive, never ride in a vehicle, never fly, never eat any food that we’d not grown organically ourselves, etc.  But that wouldn’t be much of a life, would it? 

Jesus said that he’d come to give us “life – an abundant life” – one that overflows.  We often think that Jesus came to bring us salvation – and that is true.  He did come for that.  But he also came so we could have abundant life.  He doesn’t just save us from eternal torment in hell, but he also saves us from living wasted lives.  What if you worked hard your entire life and when you get to the end you discover, as you lay in your room gazing at the things that surround you, that you’re not very happy with what you have and did with your life?  Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us.  When we get to the end of this life, he wants us to be of the mindset that we’re grateful for the life we’ve had to live, a life we can look back on and see was well-lived, but mostly to have the attitude of: “It’s been a great ride so far, Jesus.  Now, let the REAL adventure begin!”

If you feel that you’re living a wasted life – one devoid of meaning – I don’t think you’re living the Jesus-life.  All you have to do is read the New Testament and you’ll see that his life and the lives of his disciples were anything but wasted, dull, boring and meaningless.  It was in serving God, and people, that they found joy, and that’s where we’ll find it, too.  There are many ways to lose your life, but only one way to find it!

PRAYER:  God, we long for the fully abundant life you have offered to us.  Help us put everything else aside that slows us down or distracts us from running full-speed into the adventure of eternity with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/2/16 – Where Was the Samaritan?

DayBreaks for 6/02/16 – Where Was the Samaritan?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

By STEVE McMORRAN, Associated Press Writer Wed May 24, 3:29 PM ET, WELLINGTON, New Zealand –

Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world’s tallest peak. David Sharp, 34, died apparently of oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week.  More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance.  “Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain,” Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association.

New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to reach the mountain’s summit on prosthetic legs, told Television New Zealand that his party stopped during its May 15 summit push and found Sharp close to death.  A member of the party tried to give Sharp oxygen, and sent out a radio distress call before continuing to the summit, he said.  Several parties reported seeing Sharp in varying states of health and working on his oxygen equipment on the day of his death.

Inglis, who was due to arrive back in New Zealand on Thursday, said Sharp had no oxygen when he was found. He said there was virtually no hope that Sharp could have been carried to safety from his position about 1,000 feet short of the 29,035-foot summit, inside the low-oxygen “death zone” of the mountain straddling the Nepal-China border.  His own party was able to render only limited assistance and had to put the safety of its own members first, Inglis said Wednesday.  “I walked past David but only because there were far more experienced and effective people than myself to help him,” Inglis said. “It was a phenomenally extreme environment; it was an incredibly cold day.”

The temperature was minus 100 at 7 a.m. on the summit, he said.

Hillary told the Otago Daily Times, “There have been a number of occasions when people have been neglected and left to die and I don’t regard this as a correct philosophy.”  “I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top,” he told the newspaper.

Hillary told New Zealand Press Association he would have abandoned his own pioneering climb to save another’s life.  “It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say ‘good morning’ and pass on by,” he said.  He said that his expedition, “would never for a moment have left one of the members or a group of members just lie there and die while they plugged on towards the summit.”

Galen’s Thoughts: As I read this account, I couldn’t help but think of the story of the Good Samaritan.  And it made me wonder, what has happened to our world, that reaching the summit of a mountain is more important than trying to save a human life?  There is no doubt that as the snow and ice blew and swirled in Everest’s death zone, the conditions were beyond anything that nearly all of us will ever experience.  But does that mean it’s OK to pass by someone who is on the verge of dying on your way to the top of the mountain?  And how convenient the excuse “…there were far more experienced and effective people than myself to help him…” 

Somehow, I think Jesus would have stopped, don’t you?  The question is: what would I have done?  What would you have done?  The painful truth is that there are people we pass EVERY DAY who face a far worse fate than freezing to death on the slopes of Mount Everest.  Do I pass them by “…because there were far more experienced and effective people than myself to help him..”?  Why should we assume that someone more experienced will come along?  Might it not be that Jesus put that person on the same pathway that we are on so that we would see them and stop? 

Who will you see today who is dying without the Lord?

PRAYER:  Father, forgive us for the excuses we make for not speaking to those who are dying without Jesus.  Give us the wisdom to recognize those who are in desperate need of the gospel.  Give us the alertness and clear mindedness to stop in our headlong rush to get where we’re going to spend time with those who are facing death.  And give us the courage to speak words of Life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.


DayBreaks for 09/24/12 – Getting Bigger

DayBreaks for 09/24/12 – Getting Bigger

What is your Mt. Everest spiritually speaking?  By asking that question, I’m really asking you what is your biggest challenge to reaching the pinnacle of God’s design and desire for you personally?  Is it a hidden, secret sin that fills you with shame and guilt (or which you know should fill you with shame and guilt, but you’ve done it so long and so often that it no longer causes you to feel anything)?  Is it pride?  Is it a love of money or security?  Is it a relationship that you know isn’t good or healthy, but you can’t bring yourself to leave that relationship behind?

After every failure (at least in the beginning) we beg God for forgiveness and pledge to Him that “I’ll never do that again!”  (If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…!)  And then we, by our own will-power, set out to not sin that way again…and it lasts for maybe a couple of days or a week or two at most.  Then that temptation, that Mt. Everest, is right there outside the door again, knocking at our minds, prying at our hearts, tugging at our desires.

George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to get to the top of Mount Everest.  In the early 1920’s, he led a number of attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the 3rd attempt in 1924.  Before that last and fatal attempt, Mallory said, “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.”

Mallory was an extraordinary climber, and nothing would force him to give up.  His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up on the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak.  Give up he did not.  His body was found face down on a rocky slope, head toward the summit.  His arms were extended high over his head.  His toes were pointed into the mountain; his fingers dug into the loose rock, refusing to let go even as he drew his last breath.  A short length of cotton rope – broken – was looped around his waist.

When those who had set up camp for Mallory further down the mountain returned to England a banquet was held for them.  A huge picture of Mt. Everest stood behind the banquet table, it is said that the leader of the group stood to be applauded, and with tears streaming down his face, turned and looked at the picture.  “I speak to you, Mt. Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those yet unborn,” he said.  “Mt. Everest, you defeated us once; you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times.  But Mt. Everest we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.”

Even the greatest struggles, the greatest obstacles to a life of faith, can be overcome through the Spirit’s power.  The problem we have is that we give up too easily.  We need to never give up – to keep digging our fingers into the rock, face upward, to never stop striving for the pinnacle.

In 1953 two climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, reached the top of Mt. Everest and their names are written in history.  Someday, by the sheer grace of God, we shall reach the summit and our name will be found in the Book of Life.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. – Phil. 3:14

PRAYER: Lord, help me keep my face toward You as I look for that high calling and struggle to live up to it!  Don’t let us give in to defeat and despair, for the victory is Yours and You have chosen to share it with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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