“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
 John 10:10

I was a gangly fourteen-year-old when I climbed my first mountain. Mount Huron, one of Colorado’s “fourteeners.” Climbing a mountain wasn’t really something I wanted to do. I was on a backpacking trip with my youth group and our guides woke us up in the middle of the night, told us to bundle up, get our water and our flashlights, and meet them in the center of our camp. We did, grumbling the whole way. The grumbles turned into passionate protests when they explained that we were going to climb a mountain. In the dark.

It had already been a rough day. We’d hiked over two ridges, and my muscles were sore. Earlier that day, on a particularly rocky section of the trail, the sole of my hiking boot broke off. So all I had left were my cool, pink tennis shoes. With terrible traction.

Though I pleaded my case, our guides didn’t back down. They basically told me to go or be left behind. Alone. With the bears. Since that wasn’t my idea of a good time either, I started out with the rest of the group.

I’d never felt so tired. My legs hurt, my head hurt, my eyes hurt. The only thing guiding my steps was the small, circular beam from my flashlight. As we started through a boulder field about three-fourths of the way through our journey, I dropped my flashlight. It bounced down the slope and my world went dark. I sat on a rock and cried. It was too hard. It hurt too much. I was too scared. I wanted to give up. But I didn’t. After a while, I prayed, I picked myself up, and I continued the journey—albeit very slowly—until I’d reached the top.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our fullest moments in life—the best times of refreshment—usually come after a long, arduous struggle. All the way up that mountain, I’d carried the burdens of resentment and fear. I couldn’t see where I was going. The world was dark and I was weary. But I kept hiking. And when I clawed my way up the last section of the peak right as the sunrise bled across the sky, all of those burdens disappeared. Refreshment rushed in and I only felt free.

When I think of living life to the fullest, when I think about refreshment, I always remember how I felt standing on the peak of Mount Huron. I’ve climbed many mountains since then—literally and figuratively. And after I conquer each one, I know exactly what Jesus was talking about in John 10:10. Life to the full—the life that He promises—is a life of both surrender and freedom. If you surrender to His will and hike through the rough spots, if you persevere and hold onto Him tight, you will most assuredly experience His refreshing sovereignty on the mountaintop.

A lifelong storyteller, Sara Richardson is passionate about communicating reasons for hope. Previously she has been an advertising copywriter, an Internet communications manager, and a whitewater rafting guide. In addition to writing fiction, Sara has published nonfiction articles in parenting and family magazines. As a member of MOPS International, Sara enjoys speaking to moms’ groups. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University. Visit her at www.hopetolife.com

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