(This is the script of my Pause For Thought on BBC Radio 2 with Nikki Chapman on December 15th 2022. The theme was Conquering Mountains.
In italics is a paragraph I ditched. It was not because I wanted to edit the Bible out. I always like the Bible in my Thoughts. It was because that we rightly decided that the general UK public would not be knowledgeable enough of The Gospels to grasp the theological thought within. If you are then you might see where I was coming from...)
I remember the phone call. It was around 8 am and Caroline was telling my wife Janice that her husband Nigel had summited Everest. I remember a sense of relief. Then euphoria.
Nigel was on Everest to do medical research. Research done and there was a chance of conquering the highest mountain in the world. I was learning that you didn’t just get out at the highest Base Camp and make a run for it. It would depend on the weather. He would need the right weather at the right time and he got it.
He had made it. I felt the sense of achievement. So few get to experience the top of the world. I went out and ran faster and longer than the day before. Everything seemed possible.
When Nigel came home and talked about reaching the top of Everest he told me that he doesn’t endorse the idea that we conquer mountains. We are blessed to reach their summits and it might be possible in doing so to conquer our fears and worries.
He also says that that when you get to the top of a mountain you are only half way there. Coming down can be more dangerous. You can be complacent. There are ice movements coming down Everest that can be the most dangerous part. Nigel didn’t think it was over when he got down the mountain BUT he had only made it when he was back home with his family.
It’s good advice for every project. An understanding about when the challenge is actually conquered. When can I relax? When is it done?
People often see Jesus cross as his summit but actually when he fixes his eyes on Jerusalem in Luke 9, it is about the time he would be taken up to heaven. The cross wasn’t the end for Jesus, nor was the resurrection. It was when he ascended back into heaven.
Next year we remember 25 years since the Good Friday peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. It was the end of the Troubles. A mountain conquered it seemed. There was relief. Euphoria.
But it wasn’t the end. We need to continue to build on the peace that was made. Making peace was not the end. The next bit can be dangerous but we need to keep moving until we have more than a constitutional peace but a peace that everyone is experiencing every single day.