By Terence T. Gorski,
Pierre the mountain climber was known for three things:
– He didn’t believe in God;
– He hated to follow the rules; and
– He thought all he needed was himself.
One day Pierre, all by himself, took off in the early morning to break a new trail to the top of the mountain. He smiled arrogantly because by nightfall a new trail would carry his name and his name alone. He friend pleaded with him: “It’s too dangerous to climb alone. It breaks our first rule of safety in mountain climbing never climb alone.
Pierre laughed and pushed his friend aside. “I’ve climbed to many heights all by myself”, he said. “This will be no different! I’ll be fine.” So Pierre set out all by himself. After climbing all day he found his new trail to the summit. He marked the new route carefully on his map and signed it with pride. This new route he had mapped would make the climb faster and easier. It would open the mountain to more tourists and everyone in the village would prosper. It would make his name famous and he knew it.
Pierre started back down mountain. He couldn’t wait to let everyone know. If he hurried, the story would make the morning newspaper in the village. He was preoccupied with his success and in his hurry he made a wrong turn and got lost. The sun was setting. Darkness was engulfing him. He knew it would be a black and moonless night. He would be alone in the pitch black of the cold mountain night.
Fear knotted in Pierre’s stomach. “I never get lost!” He yelled at the setting sun. “Nothing can stop me! I’ll make it back even in the dark. In his fear, however, he broke the second safety rule of climbing – don’t climb in the dark. All climbers knew that climbing in darkness was inviting death. The safe thing to do was to hunker down, tie off, and wait for morning. Pierre ignored the safety rule. After all, he hated rules. He kept climbing down, gaining momentum and believing he could reach the bottom safely.
It happened suddenly. His boot slipped from a foothold and he fell into the darkness. Then, just as suddenly came the pain — a shooting pain from his rib that nearly caused him to pass out. It took him a few minutes to get his bearings. Pierre was swinging in the air, his safety rope suspended from an out crop of rock above him. It was a long and hard fall that could have killed him. His safety line saved broke his fall and saved his life. A broken rib was a small price to pay in exchange for his life. He was too weak, however, to climb up the rope. There were no hand holds in reach. He was too exhausted to move. He knew that he will soon freeze to death if he if nothing. But what could he do?
As he swung through the could air, the pain wracking his body, he realized he has only one choice left. It went against his professional and personal code, but there was nothing left to do — so he prayed. He prayed to God to save him.
Suddenly a strong and confident voice filled his head: “I will save you my son.” the voice said. “Take your knife, cut the rope, and I will catch you.”
Pierre was horrified! What kind of God would condemn him to certain death. He knew that if he cut the rope the rope he would fall to his death. He ignored the voice and prayed again: “Is there any other God out there who will save me.” This time he hears nothing but a fearful and empty silence.
The next morning, the headline in the village newspaper read: “Pierre the mountain climber was found frozen to death swinging from his safety harness three-feet from the bottom of Hill Brier Cliff.”
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