Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Willing to Die?

Yesterday was a wonderfully relaxing day around the Harvey house. We did very little in the morning, (well, the kids and I did very little. Alana did laundry and grocery shopping) went to some friends to swim and grill burgers (while dodging lightning bolts!!) and still got home early in the evening to watch some football and relax. Then it happened. I got sucked in like a mobile home in a tornado. Before I knew it I had traveled to the highest point on earth and lived to tell about it. Sort of.

I stumbled across one of those documentaries about a group climbing Mount Everest. They followed their preparations, their injuries and their fears. One member of the expedition was a Los Angeles firefighter, one a former Hell’s Angel, one an asthmatic who was climbing without an oxygen mask and one was a double amputee having lost his legs in another mountain climbing accident. How could I not morbidly watch to see which one of these guys was not going to make it!!

I have always been fascinated by Everest. I have zero desire to go off to Nepal and climb, but I cannot stop myself from watching documentaries about those who do. I watch and try to decide who will and won’t make the summit and who will and won’t make it off the mountain. I am fascinated by what becomes a fixation of these men and women to literally risk their life to stand on top of the world for twenty minutes.

Tim, the ex-Hell’s Angel member (I am not really sure what you are after you are a Hell’s Angel!) was so fixated on reaching the summit that he literally had to be turned in his tracks to force him to walk down. He was too far from the summit to reach it before his oxygen supply ran out. Brett, the L.A. fireman stopped at 24,000 feet and said, “I have reached my personal summit.” The one climbing without oxygen had to turn around because his mind began playing tricks on him and he was disoriented. The one who made the summit was the double amputee.

Every one of these people had a reason they wanted to reach the top. And every one of them was within inches or moments from their death. Their fixation almost cost them their lives. As I was lying in bed thinking about the show, I found myself wondering what I was so passionate about that I would put myself in that position. Is there an adventure that I have to do so desperately that I am willing to risk my life to pursue it at all costs? The simple answer is no.

It may sound wimpy and boring, but I can’t imagine placing my life in danger at that level. I think about my wife and kids and realize the selfishness it would take to risk their future for my fulfillment. I think about my calling to serve Christ by teaching others about him and realize that no adventure could replace an eternal calling. I think about the relationships I have and would never want to jeopardize them through a pursuit of such an intentional snub to my own mortality.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people trying to fulfill wild and crazy adventures. I wish there was a part of me that wanted to do those things. But when it all boils down, the question becomes, “what are you willing to die for?”

For me, I am willing to die for the safety of my family. I am willing to die trying to rescue others. I am willing to die for the sake of my calling. I am simply not willing to die for the sake of adventure.

What are you willing to die for?

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