It’s Perseverance That Counts

We were young and on a mission! It was June 1968. The war in Vietnam was hot. There were protests in the streets. It was the summer of love, but we had no part in that. I was fourteen, and we were hiking the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in Washington State. The trail is 91 miles long and completely encircles the 14,410-foot-high volcano. The trail passes through thick lowland forests and climbs over high glacier-covered passes. It was incredibly strenuous, but we were prepared. Every day we ran laps at the High School track. We planned each step and studied the maps. I still can’t believe my parents let me do it. It was a wonderous time.

For the first, we raced up the trail under our packs. We ran for fifteen minutes and then rested for five. Then we took off again: start and stop, start, and stop. On the third day, we came across a cute little couple. They were in their 70s and looked so sweet. He had his alpine hat with a feather, and she wore a check shirt and sweater. They were out for a day hike, and we quickly passed them. Then, about the third rest stop we took, we heard a strange sound: step, step, step. It was slow and steady. Then we spied the feather from his hat coming up the trail! “Quick! Grab your packs! Let’s get moving!” We raced a little farther before collapsing. Step. Step. Step. Step. “They are catching us! Let’s go!” Step. Step. Step. Step.

Let’s skip to the end of the story. The little old couple beat us to the top of the pass. They passed again on the way down. “We waited for you as long as we could,” she explained, “but we were getting cold.” We looked down at our boots, panting. He was kind. “Those packs look very heavy. If we were younger, we would like to hike the Wonderland Trail.” We looked up, wiped the sweat from our eyes, and smiled.

Since then, I’ve learned the race isn’t always to the swift. It’s perseverance that counts!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1 – 2).

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