Friday, January 15, 2010


There is no panic in heaven!
Lloyd John Olgilvie

Never terribly fond of heights, I was reluctant to scale so steep a slope. But for some reason, in that season of hiking hubby and I shared while mending some broken fences in our marriage, it was an amazing way to share space and have space simultaneously.

The Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges in Washington State afford many such opportunities. There are miles and miles of trails; some for the novice, others for the seasoned Sherpa. Most often we navigated the latter, winding our way up amidst high mountain meadows, or alongside brooks and streams that often provided a thirst-quench, or a soak for weary feet. We'd talk, or not talk as we felt to ... and by the time of our return we'd have sifted through both the gentle and troubled thoughts between us.

On one such trek we found ourselves hiking switchbacks that exhaust me even now, just thinking of them. One foot ahead of the other - up, up, up we hiked, as if we were climbing steep stairs that lead to the top of an 80-story building. (By the way, this was a good 20 years ago, when I still had muscles!)

Breathing had to be measured, and rests were frequent. Then, as we neared the crest of Norse Peak Trail, we entered a shale field with a very precarious rise that placed us just this side of heaven. The drop along the ridge was sheer, but it seemed the entire world could be seen from that place - unless, of course, panic set in. Then it was hard to see at all. I know.

Panic set in. I wasn't able to see heaven for having switched my focus to what was (or, in this case, what was NOT) beneath me. I closed my eyes, dropped to my knees as if to cling to the earth, and hollered at hubby that I couldn't go up, nor could I go down. I was afraid to move; afraid to breath; afraid to open my eyes. I was afraid.

No longer breathing in steady rhythm, I found myself hyper-ventilating to such a degree that I felt sure I'd faint ... and fall. Then, as is so often the case with panic, my mind began to race and I could see myself tumbling down some scary rock face. Helicopters would have to be brought in to collect my broken body, and hubby would be left to tell the sorry/sad news to our children that their mother, a non-Sherpa, had met her fate on Norse Peak. On-and-on the thoughts raced nearly as fast as my gasps for breath.

Hubby, who is unflappable by any standard, hollered back to me as he continued to make his way along the ridge: "Look up. Don't look down."

Sure ... easy for him to say!

You know what, I was so mad at him for what seemed such a callous command that I did get up and made my way just fine ... albeit on adrenaline and anger.

Oh, it took me awhile to get past the dizziness and sick feeling that had set in, but by the time of our successful descent it had dawned on me that he'd given me heaven's best; the recipe for preventing and recovering from all fear ... Look up; don't look down (or at the circumstances frightening you).

I still don't like heights. But I know from whence my help comes from.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber ...

Psalm 121:1-3

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps
have more actual troubles but
I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
Don Herold

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.
Author Unknown


Jackie said...

Wonderful post Sister!

I have a picture on the wall to always remind me and others in my home "When in doubt look up".

Oh, thank the Lord that He never sleeps or slumbers and will not let our foot slip as we look to Him!! Glory to God! Thank you Jesus!

Have a great weekend!

Sweet Blessings!

manthano said...

Great post.
While the world looks down.
We need to keep looking up.

Rose said...

Okay I was almost hyperventilating just reading about the experience, but what a great object lesson.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh this was perfect!!! I love how you wrote it and the meaning behind it. I have so been trying to look up and when I do, I find it so much easier to keep climbing! Partly from all your encouragement too:)
God is getting me to the top. I feel it:)

arlee bird said...

Beautifully written post. I know I'm not very fond of heights either.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

Oh, I just love this and it resonates with me today!

Those verses in Psalms are some of my favorite and I have verse 3 on a plaque on my wall.

Love you !

Tammy@If Meadows Speak... said...

So good a reminder! I can imagine hugging the earth, as in soil, dirt, "Keep me here, I don't wanta move." Not fond of cliffs, or the depths that plunge over them, I can relate. Very much a lesson in looking up. One I'll be meditating on, a lovely meditation too.

RCUBEs said...

Funny now but can't imagine when you were panicking then...I love the song that came from that verse especially the Chorus part:

"Oh how I need You Lord
You are my only hope
You’re my only prayer
So I will wait for You
To come and rescue me
Come and give me life..."

God bless.

Debbie said...

I love, love, love this post for several reasons. First of all, I love to hike. I haven't done enough of it lately and since I've gained a few pounds, it's a good reminder to get out and just do it. The weather in Phoenix (as you well know) is perfect for hiking.

I also have a bit of a fear of heights. On our honeymoon we went skiing. My husband is very experienced but it was probably my second time only. I get scared even on the ski lift but only when look down.

I also remember being in Norway on a gondola that took us up to a high mountain peak. It was so windy and it was swinging wildly. I was so scared of looking out and down that I actually sat down on the floor so I wouldn't see anything.

So, I will take your husband's advice and look up and not down. And spiritually that is so right too. Don't look down at the problems. Look up to the source of the answers to the problems.

Love you,

Nel said...

What a wonderful post, just for a moment I was there with you on that hike. So many times we become overwhelmed by our trials or troubles, but you are right all we have to do is look up! Thanks for sharing!

Kay said...

I think I would have been saying "don't look down" to myself from the very beginning. Not a big heights girl. I have to remind myself of that in life too. Look UP! : )

Just a little something from Judy said...

One of the posts in blogging where you sit on every word...where you find yourself right there with the writer, feeling what they feel and fearing exactly what they are fearing. How often in life, God uses quiet little reminders for me to keep looking up,up,up, because I can't face what is before me. I know this post will stick with me for a long time, because it is such a great example. Thank you for the privilege of having this stick in my mind. I am sure another panic time is just ahead.

Karen Lange said...

Great post! Your husband's comment sounds like something my husband would he kept moving too. He also likes to say that nothing takes God by surprise. He isn't up there on His throne, shaking nervously over events. Comforting thought. Thanks for sharing this:)

sonja said...

I'd say your husband gave you the truth for that day and for all of life... LOOK UP! As we 'hike' through this life, there is no better or safer solution than to..look up.

A wonderful reminder and for me, nothing is quicker to grasp than a good word picture. This is one I'll remember many times!

Loren said...


Oh my friend....I am desperately afraid of heights and can soooo relate to this "panic" Even today when driving over a bridge I find myself saying "LOOK FORWARD not down" LOL

I know the best thing.... no matter what causes us to panic.... is to rest in HIM and to call upon the Lord knowing the Holy Spirit is with us and not allow that spirit of fear to have ANY authority over us! That in itself is a process huh! Working out those spiritual muscles :)

Have a blessed weekend my friend

christy rose said...

I do not like heights either. at all!!! And looking up is always the answer in any panic situation. I loved your illustration through the hike. Excellent way of bringing your point home. :)

Denise said...

Such a great post.

Beth E. said...

EEeek....this post was a real cliffhanger! I don't care for heights - AT ALL - and could only imagine the terror you were feeling. Shew...just reading about the hiking was a little scary for me.

In hindsight, your husband did give you some great advice. I admire you for overcoming your fear and pressing on. Don't know if I could have done that. Way to go, Sassy!

I love the message in this post, and the Bible verse and quotes are perfect.

Now...I need to forget about scaling heights, calm down a little, and go to bed! ;-)


Rita said...

What a great reminder! Thanks for sharing it.

Shirl said...

Amen, amen, amen! Wonderful story with a meaningful message!

Laura said...

What a challenge and what a lesson!

We can't do it on our own, can we? We have to look to the hills. As a mom, that's what I need to remember.

Enjoyed your post.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I'm looking up, Kathleen. I'm looking up!

Susan :)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

So thankful for all the "climbs" of our hearts that have saved us, marriages included. Thanks for keeping to the climb, Sassy, both in the spiritual and the physical.

I love you.


prashant said...

I was almost hyperventilating just reading about the experience, but what a great object lesson.

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