Now, A Word About Perseverance

No ropes. No clips. No safety equipment. It’s just you, your hands and your feet.
It’s called free soloing and it’s a form of rocking climbing that has been in the news these last few days. This past Saturday, Alex Honnold did something that no one has ever done before. He climbed the 3,000 foot granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without any climbing gear—save for a bag of chalk to assist his grip.
Yep, that’s right. With little more than what you are wearing right now, imagine climbing up a rock face wall over half a mile straight up. They call it a ‘free solo climb.’ It would be more like ‘free falling’ for me.
Climbers in the know are calling Honnold’s feat the greatest solo climb of all time. In case you’re wondering, Honnold did the climb alone, and in less than 4 hours.
The first thing that comes to mind, besides vertigo, is the sheer immensity of such a pursuit. When I consider what Honnold did, I find it difficult to imagine that it would be possible. A mistake would mean death (actually, it would mean a nightmarish fall followed by death). Obviously, no one would be able to help you if you needed assistance. The strength, endurance and mental fortitude needed sounds gargantuan.
But here’s the thing. This extraordinary feat didn’t just happen. Honnold didn’t wake up one day and decide between bites of a Krispy Kreme Donut to take it on. The free climb wasn’t a dare. Honnold wasn’t inebriated. No, Hannold was able to accomplish the impossible because he prepared relentlessly for it.
As far back as 2009, Honnold decided to take on El Capitan. He studied the mountain. He enlisted the help of other climbing experts. He used ropes and clips to inspect the mountain more closely, identifying possible routes. He trained on similar mountains all over the world. He gave it a shot nearly a year ago, deciding after beginning his assault that the conditions were not right. Just last week he mapped out the route with chalk, hoping that when he arrived in the dark on Saturday morning that the chalk would still be visible.

National Geographic confirms our hunch about his detailed preparation. “Honnold is obsessive about his training, which includes hour-long sessions every other day hanging by his fingertips and doing one- and two-armed pullups on a specially-made apparatus that he bolted into the doorway of his van. He also spends hours perfecting, rehearsing, and memorizing exact sequences of hand and foot placements for every key pitch. He is an inveterate note-taker, logging his workouts and evaluating his performance on every climb in a detailed journal.”
Alex Honnold didn’t just climb El Capitan. He made it his life’s work.
I am humbled by this climber’s approach to this task and am reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Colossus: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Extraordinary things happen when we work for them. The things that we consider impossible can be achieved when we "work at them with all our hearts, as working for the Lord." Great things require great preparation, great wisdom and great effort. These monumental accomplishments do not happen with the snap of a finger, but with a focus and grit that only perseverance can achieve.
When I think of the needs of our community and the ways in which our church can address them, I am often overwhelmed by the immensity of what would be necessary to pull it off. And yet, when I am reminded by the fact that, “It is the Lord Christ we are serving,” I remember that God is in the business of making the impossible possible. What is required on our part is the willingness to work toward a God-given goal that can bring glory and honor to Him. The ‘amazing’ and the ‘extraordinary’ don’t just happen. They require vision, planning, hard work and determination.  
Unlike Honnold’s ascent, we are not called to accomplish great things by ourselves. But with one another, with God as our vision-crafter and pace-setter, we can accomplish more than we could ever ask or imagine.