So, many of you know by now that I am on the home stretch of preparing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro the first two weeks of September. I have 5 weeks and 2 days before leaving for an adventure of a lifetime! I don’t know that I have ever prepared as much for a journey as I have for this one. But as one of the words of advice from the company I am climbing with offered “Your enjoyment during the climb directly correlates to the training effort given during the previous months”.
Training for climbing a high altitude mountain (19,341 ft but who’s counting!) includes a variation of endurance training, strength training and cardio vascular
/interval training. There is no one kind of training to do. Instead it is a combination of strengthening your heart and lungs to handle a high level of activity and Oxygen demand. Add to that endurance so you can sustain the level of energy output over an extended amount of time. Add to that strength training so you can carry your (only 25 pound) pack up the mountain. Thankfully there are porters on Kili that carry the heavier stuff so the load is a little lighter than on other mountains. To do this requires training 6 days a week.
So obviously with the high level of fitness required, you can’t start training one month out. I started in February. And I am thankful to say, I feel physically ready. I have had some great friends (many of them new for me) that have helped me train by going on long hikes with me. I have new encouragers at the YMCA that have heard about what I am doing and ask me questions and have been so supportive. (I realize I look a little funny walking around the Y in my clunky hiking boots and weighted vest headed for the stairclimber). And, I have probably sweated the full amount of my body fluids out at least 120 times! There can be absolutely no toxins left in my system right now. But it takes time and discipline to work up to the high level of fitness this excursion demands. But it can be done, one day at a time. And literally how I will get to the top of the mountain -one step at a time.
Oh, not all of the preparation is physical. Today I sent off for my visa to enter Tanzania. I have had to prepare a massive packing list. Check to make sure all of my vaccines like Yellow Fever and Tetanus are up to date. Securing a flight schedule to get me from Greensboro to Arusha, Tanzania was no easy feat- almost 18 hours in the air! Lots of details to make sure I have in order days before boarding the plane.
The point is, 75% of this experience is in the preparation. The anticipation of the adventure. The attention to detail to prepare for every need but not over prepare (as you do have to carry that stuff most of the way). The challenge of preparing yourself physically (which is my favorite part). That is what helps make the experience
amazing and positive. Not just the amazing mountain, view, the animals, the cool new people you meet, the interesting food you get to try, or the sleeping out under the stars with no electronics within earshot!
Isn’t that how it works with our relationship with God? We don’t just wake up one day or arrive at church and experience great joy and spiritual renewal without any sense of preparation. God doesn’t do all the work so we just get to sit back and bask in the experience and say, “isn’t God amazing!” So much of the work of spiritual formation and growing in our relationship with Jesus IS the preparation. Those who enjoy a rich and deep experience of Jesus know what I’m talking about. They have put in the hours in the spiritual gym. They have pushed themselves to read God’s Word. They have been disciplined to pray on a regular basis. They have committed to giving time in their lives to worship and serve God. The Holy Spirit uses all of this and multiplies and blesses it. A mature spiritual life? It’s all in the preparation. And it happens one step at a time.
Speaking of worship, it’s also kind of the same principle. One doesn’t just show up for worship and necessarily have a life altering experience. But when one spends time preparing for worship, anticipating encountering God, reading the Scripture ahead of time, planning what offering we might give, longing to offer God our best whatever that might look like, then our worship experience is often full and powerful. It’s all in the preparation. God blesses our preparation. Deeply.
So what are you preparing for? If you look at your schedule, what captures your heart and mental thinking time; where you spend your resources of time, money and ability; what does it tell you? What are you preparing for? It’s a valid question worth considering.
Grace and Peace,