Where Eagles Dare
Heroes are made and revered because they see a tremendous challenge and overcome any obstacle to seek to conquer. We admire them and their courage. We desire to emulate them.
George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to reach the top of Mount Everest. In the early 1920’s he led several attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the third attempt in 1924. His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak. Give up he did not. His body was found face down on a rocky slope, head toward the summit. His arms were extended high over his head. His toes were pointed into the mountain; his fingers dug into the loose rock, refusing to let go even as he drew his last breath. A short length of cotton rope – broken – was looped around his waist.
In an interview, Mallory was asked, “Why climb Everest?” This is the reply he gave:
“The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use’. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
Mallory left out the key element for life. After all, “What does it profit a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul?” Enjoyment of life to the full is not possible without faith in Jesus. Spiritual conquest is the goal of every believer and results in joy unspeakable. Whenever we see or read of a person that demonstrates unusual bravery in the face of danger, unbelievable stamina in situations that would cause others to quit, and absolute boldness in a moment of sheer fear, we are moved deeply. In those moments, we ask ourselves, “Could I have done that?” “Would I have had the strength to be steadfast in the raging attacks facing me?”
We want to think so. However, for most of us, we realize that many times under far less “pressure filled” tests, we folded. Adventurers push the envelope. Runners move past “the wall” of fatigue. Soldiers go back “into the battle” repeatedly. They are not oblivious to the physical pain, mental anguish, or surrounding danger. There is the “challenge of the commitment” to press toward victory. Paul expended this kind of fearless faith in working with Christ followers in the first century.
28 We proclaim Him, warning and instructing everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present every person complete in Christ [mature, fully trained, and perfect in Him—the Anointed]. 29 For this I labor [often to the point of exhaustion], striving with His power and energy, which so greatly works within me. (Colossian 1:28-29).