On frailty and power

MZ at summit sign 3.JPG

One never conquers a mountain. That’s foolish talk.

The human being is a creature of frailty and mountains are primordial objects built by forces beyond comprehension. Those forces continue to operate right up to this very second, and, in the span of that second, can turn to fury. It takes very little to set one off: a rolling pebble, a drifting snowflake, a shifting wind, a growl that creeps up a volcanic throat. Conquer? I don’t think so.

Mountains are not alive, but they do pulsate. They have no feelings, no malice or joy, but somehow they stand among the proudest of all creation. They are impervious to the flags of victory that we raise above them and they are deaf to the claps of congratulations that we share (before scrambling back down to safety).

No. If someone claims “I’ve conquered a mountain,” they are either dull or worse—a liar. Mountains are climbed only when conditions are right, when the body cooperates, when supports are in place, when the other demands of life permit, and, ultimately, when it is within the will of God.

The truer claim acknowledges this constellation of conditions, peers into the dark haze and humbly says “thank you.” Thank you God for creating something as majestic as Mt Kilimanjaro. Thank you for the granting us the gift of its experience. I am so out of my league.

“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also” (Psalm 95:4).


I play in Africa but work in Israel-Palestine.

If you are a pastor, church leader, or educator who is interested in leading a trip to the lands of the Bible, let me hear from you. I partner with faith-based groups to craft and deliver outdoor academic experiences. Leaders receive the same perks that other agencies offer, at competitive prices, and without the self-serving interests that often derail pilgrim priorities.