The Summit: the truth about American individualism

The sight was beautiful and as a man in a thick jacket pulled on his harness and looked toward the summit of the mountain. “Click,” he made sure his harness was secure and walked toward the base, picks in hand.

He looked up again, for it would be the last time so that he might concentrate on climbing well, exhaled, closed his eyes and listened. The wind whistled through the cliffs and the rustle of the evergreens was relaxing. The man stepped in place to get his adrenaline flowing and hammered one pick, closely followed by the other, into the icy face of the mountain. He would pull himself up, kick the spikes on his shoes, one at a time, into the ice, remove the picks one by one and repeat. Fastening his harness into a temporary anchor at each point.

The process was simple and secure, but required endurance of both the mind and the body. One slip and the man would undoubtedly fall to his death, never making it to the summit.

Four hours passed and the man was tired. He stopped, made sure his harness was secured to an anchor and leaned back to give his legs the rest they needed. The air here was cooler, crisper and the climber had to concentrate to draw deeper breaths. The sun reflected more brightly off the surface of the ice and snow. His picks dangled from his wrists as he rotated his backpack from his back, reached into it and enjoyed the meal that he had packed for himself.

Rest and relaxation is important, but it was impressive that he could get any while being so high off the ground. It couldn’t last long, however, if he wanted to finish the climb. “Zip, slide, click,” the climber slid his pack back around to his back and began climbing again and his hands were starting to freeze. This is where endurance surely began and where the journey became the most difficult. He was ready to pass the flat cliff and get to where there was at least a slight incline.

Kick,” his spike went into the ice and the ice chipped a little more than usual. As the climber pulled one of his picks out, his foot slipped and before he knew it he was hanging from his anchor and being hit against the side of the cliff. Thank Heaven for that anchor! The dangling man looked up and saw that anchor, that safeguard, being pulled out slightly by his weight. Apparently the ice here was weaker. He quickly spun himself around, digging himself into the ice with one pick and one handedly  dug another anchor into the ice before the other fell out. At that moment, without any time for reaction, the ice around his pick gave and his anchor came out. This climber was falling to his death.

Jerk,” the rope on his harness was pulled tight and again he dangled.

“You having trouble down there, Jim?” a voice came from above.

Jim looked up to see two other climbers on the same line. Their anchors where now keeping him alive. The truth about the climb was that others were making it also. Jim was concerned about himself, but others were also concerned about him. True individualism, it seemed, was more likely to cause death than to help anyone reach the summit.


And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB)


Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 HCSB)

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