Going to the Top: Stepping Out in Obedience

The Famous Everest Climber

For Kids Forgiving Challenge, I spent a lot of time researching Edmund Hillary, the famous mountain climber from New Zealand who climbed Everest. It’s helpful for kids and adults to see forgiveness like climbing a mountain. Forgiveness is not a straight shot: there are setbacks along the way, and we need lots of help and encouragement to get there.

Hillary wanted to be the first man to reach the summit, or the very top, of the tallest mountain in the world – Mount Everest. As described in the book, Hillary did not get to the top the first time he tried, but he did not give up. After his first unsuccessful climb, he famously said, “Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!”

Although we included a lot about that famous climb and the team in our book, one story didn’t make it to the book, which has always fascinated me. It was the story of the boots the team wore.


These Boots Are Made For Climbing

Hillary’s team needed a new pair of shoes to accomplish their mission. The most important thing about a climbing shoe is keeping feet warm, dry, and comfortable. Previously, climbing boots were made from deerskin cocoons that went all the way up to the thigh of the climber. They were awkward and heavy, not the ideal shoe for a climber. SARTA, the British Boot, Shoe, and Allied Trade Research Association went to work inventing a new boot for the Everest team. They made the new shoe from leather, rubber, latex, and cotton. They were also lighter, weighing 4.2 pounds instead of 6.4 pounds. This might not seem like a lot, but taking thousands of steps makes a big difference.

Many people were skeptical of the new boot. One press release said it looked more like a boot for the abominable snowman or a blown-up football boot. Would these even work on the mountain? There was no time to test the new shoe, but the Everest team decided it was worth the risk. They ordered thirty-five pairs of boots, one for each team member. The shoes had removable crampons and steel spikes that gripped ice or snow and could be taken off and on quickly.

On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and a Sherpa mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The expedition was successful. Amazingly, not one of the British team suffered from frostbite on their feet. This had never happened on any other trip. The original boot Sir John Hunt wore on the Everest Expedition is in the archives at SATRA today.

Who would have thought that the boots could have made such a difference?

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news. Isaiah 52:7a

Staying Power in Everyday Life

When I get busy, and things come up, I enthusiastically attack problems. I impatiently look for big and quick solutions. How do I climb this giant obstacle ahead of me? That enthusiasm is good, but for me, it lacks staying power. If I don’t have a view of a solution or don’t feel like I am making progress quickly, I get discouraged and deflate like a balloon.

The words of Isaiah 52:7-9 offer me support, like a strong pair of boots on a cold hike. These verses remind me that Jesus has already mapped out the climb. Not only that, but He has committed to hiking every step of the way with me.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.”

In these verses, Isaiah brought the Israelites some good news of peace and salvation. But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. Isaiah also deals with a hefty dose of reality for people facing some painful consequences of disobedience and evil behavior. God promises to redeem Jerusalem even through their unfaithfulness.

This is the good news I need to hear every day. Even when the music has to be faced with difficult times, there is always hope. And it starts with the everyday little things that make all the difference. Our lives testify to God in our hearts and the world around us. Your feet become beautiful, even in brutal and bleak seasons that stretch out forever, like a never-ending winter. In response to that hope, we can keep walking in obedience to His Word and His ways, even when we fail.

In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to stand firm with our feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. But sometimes I don’t want shoes; give me an elevator to the top! Where are the jet propellers on these boots?! But Jesus isn’t an elevator to an easier life; He invites you to a meaningful life. He invites us to proceed one ordinary step at a time. It may not be what I want, but what I want is a smooth ride. But it is what I need. The gospel keeps me from slipping.

When your feet are fitted with the truth, you are sure-footed and can bring hope and peace to those in need. It’s not a duty; it’s a privilege to share the message of salvation with a world longing for it.


The Climbing…and Waiting…and Climbing…and Waiting

The watchmen in verse 8 remind us of our role as vigilant and faithful servants of God. We are called to lift our voices and shout for joy, knowing that the Lord is returning. Just as the watchmen eagerly anticipate the coming of God, we are also called to be joyful in the climbing, and waiting, and climbing….and waiting…and climbing…

Back and forth, we zig-zag, climbing that mountain filled with power that can only come from Jesus. But even as we stagger and lose balance, Jesus remains calm and in control.

When your feet are fitted with the truth, you are sure-footed and can bring hope and peace to those in need. It’s not a duty; it’s a privilege to share the message of salvation with a world longing for it.

When you see brokenness around you, whether in your own lives or in the world, you can be reminded of the comfort and redemption that God offers to His people. Jerusalem was comforted and redeemed by the Lord. He brought the exiles back, just as He promised. But God was always thinking about all of humanity regarding His rescue mission. Like the Israelites, God is still inviting us on his mission field. You’ve got your feet fitted with the good news already; it’s just a matter of sharing it!


Our Hope In Trials

Even when things are challenging, we feel safe knowing we have Jesus. We can celebrate the faithfulness of God in bringing restoration to His people. We can be thankful and offer our lives as praise for the Lord, who comforts us. As we look forward to the return of Jesus, let us live each day with hopefulness.

Many things had to happen for Edmund Hillary to accomplish his mission. One of those was having the proper boots. They might not have completed their mission if Edmund Hillary had not tried something new. Like Hillary, you face trials. When tasks seem impossible, it’s important to remember that Jesus has done the saving work of faith.

Hillary had no idea what would happen when he set out to climb Everest. You, however, know your destination. Heaven is your home.

Allison Zehnder