Thursday, November 29, 2007

What would you die for?

Sagarmatha (which means "Mother of the sky") Is the best known of the Himalyan mountain range lying between the countries of Tibet and Nepal. It is more commonly known in the West as Mount Everest! The first westerner on record to have scaled its lofty heights was a British explorer named Sir Edmund Hillary. For his efforts he has a "step" on the Mountain named after him. Others were not so lucky. Their legacy to an attempt at summitting the worlds highest peak: their bodies preserved forever right where they fell and died. In 1996 more than 16 people reportedly died in one summer expedition to the summit (read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air). Some of the worlds most renowned climbers have died or been severely 'beaten' by this 'mother', yet every year they come back for more, not deterred by the apparently exhorbitant climbing fees ranging from $45,000.00 to over $60,000.00 (these fees don't include climbing equipment, and they offer no guarantees that you'll make it to the top or for that matter even make it out alive).

Why do seemingly sane people do it you might wonder? Well, George Mallory gave what I consider to be the most classic of responses when asked why he wanted to summit Everest. "Because it's there" was his well reasoned response. Excuzeme??? "Because it's there"? So let me try and unscramble this in my fogged brain. The worlds highest piece of real estate (higher than many jet liners fly) offers a challenge for some people to summitt simply because it is there? I'm glad I live vicariously through the Discovery channel and National Geographic, because you couldn't drag me to that mountain even if I were dead (I would place a well aimed karate chop right to your jugular). I just don't think attempting to scale a mountain while suffering from high altitude pulmonary edema is worth dying for. Evidently, judging from the bodies that lie strewn across the barren, colorless landscape that is Mount Everest, some people do.

I have often thought long and hard about what I would be willing to die for. I have settled this fact beyond any shadow of a doubt: I would die for the cause of Christ! As I think about Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and other such war-torn areas of the earth, I am broken-hearted for the innocent people whose lives are given as collateral damage for a war that they didn't even understand. I would be willing to die to ensure that they received the good news that: Jesus already gave His life in exchange for theirs. Some people would die for money, some for drugs, some for a licentious lifestyle, and others from simply having nothing to live for. It is part of the human psyche to believe enough in something to be willing to die for it. That is what becomes your passion. That is what becomes your driving force and your motivation to do whatever it is that you do, even on your darkest days. So, In case no one's ever asked you the question, I'm asking it now: What would you die for?


Hope Clark said...

Hey Joseph,
It strikes me as I read this that I think more of us have a Sargarmatha than we realize. "Because it's there" is such a simple statement, but I think he was saying more. "Because it's in my blood, because I can't NOT do it, because I am compelled and called, because it's IN me." I may look at Sargarmatha as an impossibility that I have no taste for... it's too cold, too long, too hard, too alone. But he may look at planting a church as an impossibility he has no taste for... it's too cold, too long, too hard, too alone. But what does that matter if it's in your blood? If you can't NOT do it? Because it's IN you... because it's there. I think there are things we would all risk dying for... we just don't always realize it until someone else comes along and says "Wow, I have no taste for that." Sometimes it helps you realize just how committed you are to it.

Joseph said...

What an absolutely brilliant perspective. I completely concur that he was saying more in that simple statement than I alluded to in my post.

Candidly, my emphasis was meant to be on the fact that to die while attempting to summit Everest seems like such an inconsequential thing to die for. However, I think it's true to suggest that, implied in his words is the fact that because it's there, he can't not climb it.

So, enough about Sir Edmund Hillary, you didn't really answer the question yourself. What would you die for?

ST said...

I'd die for my children in a New York minute; to ensure the continuity of godly seed, with the hope of preserving a godly legacy. Seeing as Father God Himself set the perfect example, I guess the apple truly doesn't fall far from the tree...

Hope Clark said...

My thought too, ST. I would die for any member of my family. (Sorry, Bentley not included.) But I would also die for the cause of Christ, like Joseph said. If I was sitting in a library and someone in a black coat came up and held a gun to my head and asked me if I believed in God... the answer would still be crystal clear to me.

Joseph said...

Great thoughts ST and Hope. I pray that we never have to prove this truth.