Every summer a group of men from our church take a trip to hike a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado. The name of the trip is creatively and cleverly dubbed The Man Trip. This trip is a “Man Trip” in every single way. All done within 72 hours the round trip covers 1700 miles and spans over 25,800 feet in elevation change. Some guys take off from Arkansas on an early Friday morning, arrive at base camp Friday evening, hike the 14er on Saturday, and return home by Sunday evening. Seems a little crazy? Absolutely, but this is what happens in a trip that includes over 20 men and 0 women or children to slow them down!
I set my eyes on conquering Man Trip 6 months in advance. I gained “clearance from Clarence” (aka Julia), scheduled a day off work, and decided on a training regimen. Of course, a trip like this takes some training to develop leg strength and respiratory stamina to handle the mountain incline and the thin Colorado air. So, my training goal was to conquer the dreaded JBU stairs. The stairs located on the John Brown University campus are 100 hundred steps that have a monstrous incline. I planned to conquer the stairs by running 10 up and downs with out a break; I was certain this would prove my readiness for Man Trip!
In the six months leading up to Man Trip several hurdles were thrown into my path to impede my training and the hurdles convinced me to abandon the manly excursion. The first hurdle was a badly sprained ankle, acquired in a pick up basketball game with kids half my age! After a long and slow recovery, I was still determined to conquer Man Trip and I quickly resumed my training regimen. The second hurdle came way of a mysterious alignment to my healthy foot, later to be diagnosed as planters fasciitis, just another form of getting old. I could barely walk the stairs a month prior to the trip. The third hurdle, everybody at work began to take vacations the week of my excursion – perfect timing! And yes a fourth hurdle 10 foot tall was thrown my way. It was a little tap on the old shoulder from Julia distributing the notification that Man Trip took place on “ovulation weekend”! Of course she handled the notification very graciously and it was a notification that included no hint of a guilt trip. She gave me total freedom to go or not go on the trip.
The fourth hurdle was different from the three previous hurdles. A few months earlier Julia and I decided to try for our second child. In our experience, this decision always brings its ups and downs. We quickly received news we were expecting not one child but two. In the same week we learned of our expectations, we lost our expectations. So at the notification of “ovulation weekend”, I began to recognize a sovereign God moving. As the last hurdle was thrown up, I recognized the three previous hurdles were cleverly placed by a higher being. I recognized the fourth hurdle was not meant to be cleared and I gave up on my goal of conquering a Colorado mountain. I knew God had something in store for us and sure enough he did! We found ourselves expecting once again!
As I look back on this time and examine all the hurdles placed before me, I began to contemplate one of the greatest theological debates of all time. The absolutely sovereignty of God and the free will of man. While I can not answer all of the questions that surround this long-standing debate, I do know what I have experienced. It was a human choice to train for Man Trip, it was my human choice to jump the first three hurdles in my path, and it was my human choice to stop at the fourth hurdle and choose another path. A different path that accomplished what God had planned before the beginning of time. I experienced human will miraculously running in stride with divine will to achieve God’s ultimate plan. A plan that is greater than our hearts could ever dream.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
My plan was to gain myself the summit of a mountain. God’s plan was to give me a Summit of my own.
David “Summit” Faught