Focus on Faith

Phil Collins is Pastor at Willow Park Church Kelowna.

Entering 2021, many people seem to find it challenging to focus. The idea of new year goal setting is a struggle while feeling so blurred.

How will you make it through the next months?

There was a time when I ran ultra and mountain marathons.

One particular event stands out, the Black Mountain Roundabout in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales.

I collapsed spectacularly halfway through the event, passed out, flat on my back.

I came round, nausea overtaking me, shaking, and disorientated. I looked up to the sky for hope, thinking my race was over. After a while, I rolled over in the purple heather and looked up the imposing proud Welsh mountain. It seemed to mock me.

There was no way I would finish this race; my mind went to a story rattling around in my head that offered me a glimpse of inspiration.

I decided to attempt something – I would pick a rock, a tree, a leaf or any landmark and go to it. Then I would decide at the landmark whether to retire or carry on.

I spotted my first flimsy tree, balancing on the rocky mountainside and reached it.

I paused and fixed my eyes on the next point, as nausea crashed over me in waves.

Feeling a little brighter, I coached myself, just the next rock, some 20 metres away.

I stepped carefully, not wanting to collapse again, and focused on the grey granite beacon. I set these small goals, choosing to be kind to myself, step by step, moment by moment; this made all the difference.

This routine carried on for the next few hours. I passed other fellow adventurers, wrapped in silver survival blankets. Overhead the chopping of a rescue helicopter filled the air.

I was inspired by the amazing story of Joe Simpson, who nearly died, while climbing the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

Simpson plummeted down the cliff and into a deep crevasse, broke his leg and was presumed dead. From there, Simpson spent three days without food and with almost no water, crawling five miles back to his base camp. This involved navigating the glacier, which was scattered with more crevasses. Exhausted and elated, he reached base camp.

Simpson described how he focused on one rock. Then went from one small achievement to the other. Simpson’s story gave me courage.

Christ’s example in the Gospels shows determination; he walked the harsh road to the cross. He encourages the weak and the troubled and promises hope and victory over the difficulties of life.

As we live in unsettling times, remember He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

I encourage you to keep His great story in your mind as you step into 2021.

Happy New Year.

Phil Collins is a pastor at Willow Park Church in Kelowna.