David Walls shares two brief stories that illustrate the truth of moving forward in the Christian life.
Sir Edmund Hillary failed in several of his early attempts to climb Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. On one occasion he had to leave five associates dead on the side of that great mountain. Still, the British parliament wanted to recognize these valiant efforts, so they invited Hillary into their chambers. They even placed a picture of Mount Everest at the front of the room.
When Sir Edmund Hillary entered the room, the members of Parliament rose to give him a standing ovation. When he saw these great legislators standing and applauding his good effort, tears filled his eyes. Many members of Parliament noticed the tears and thought, Look, the tears of happiness that we are recognizing this good effort he has made.
They were not tears of happiness and joy; they were tears of anger and frustration! Sir Edmund Hillary certainly had not set out to leave five associates dead on the side of that mountain, so he walked to the front of the room and literally pounded on the picture of Mount Everest. He screamed at the mountain: “You defeated me! But you won’t defeat me again! Because you have grown all that you can, but I am still growing!”
As Hillary walked to the front of the room, he recognized something that many people never recognize: Certainly he had made a good effort to climb that mountain, but the greatest enemy of excellence is good! He had not set out to make a “good effort” at climbing Mount Everest, but to arrive at the top. Ultimately, he was the first person to climb Mount Everest. Why? Because he continued to grow and refused to be satisfied with the good.
Having worked for many years in Africa, David Livingstone returned to England briefly. Someone greeted him, “Well, Dr. Livingstone, where are you ready to go now?” Livingstone responded, “I am ready to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”
Every Christian should find a moment of transparent honesty for spiritual life assessment. Are we, with Sir Edmund Hillary, still growing? Are we, with David Livingstone, moving forward? Or, has rigor mortis of the soul begun to set in?
Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 11: I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (26).
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