Karis Williams, first-time Freedom Challenge hiker and US Navy Vet, shares her story of the joy and challenges of taking part in our recent Estes Park climb, and how God used the event to speak to her about her future...
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:6).
I am not a patient woman.
I am a stubborn woman, and that often means I have to learn my lessons through life experiences.
God’s disciplinary tool this time was the Freedom Challenge’s Estes Park hike in July.
Is this what God wants me to do?
At first the idea seemed cool, but I debated with God if this was truly the one and only thing he wanted me to do. After all I have spent the last six years doing research on human trafficking and I had already devoted my career to aiding victims of trafficking so for some reason climbing a mountain to raise money did not seem like the next step.
This is where the journey began. I agreed to do the Freedom Challenge and for months I fundraised, built awareness and trained.
Ready for the challenge
The months flew by and soon I was on my way to Colorado. During the flight and drive to Estes Park I was excited and anticipating the fun I would have climbing, the friends I would meet and I was confident that I had trained for the climb and I was ready for the challenge.
We began the Freedom Challenge with an acclimation hike. Each step I took made me tired, the air grew thinner but I was confident that I was going at a good pace, until my body decided to betray me.
Due to a combination of the hardships of being a women mixed with my naivety that I would be able to acclimate to an increase of about 8,000ft, my body began to do things that none of you would want me to go into detail about.
Facing my biggest fear
I was so upset at the weakness of my body, that I barely paid attention to the women around me who took time to take care of me and pray for me. My biggest fear was that I would not be able to climb.
Later that night our group leader tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I was going to be moved to one of the beginner groups. She told me that due to my previous episode it would be better if I would not over stimulate my body, but she consoled me by telling me that the leader of my new group was the most amazing women she knew.
I should be going more!
The following two days, I hiked through some beautiful trails, I sighted some bears, even a moose and I had some of the most spiritually stimulating conversations in my life, but in the back of my mind I thought: “I could…I SHOULD be doing more than this!”
I was promised a Mountain! I had trained for a Mountain!
Although the trails were not as physically demanding I assured myself that there was a reason I was there. I searched deep inside and knew God was working out the characteristic of humility in me. I knew that I was where I was, because there was a lesson to be learned. This was not just about the physical mountain I was promised but that this was about my purpose and my calling.
Revelation from God
This was the revelation of the question I had been asking God.
For months before the climb I had been asking God when was the proper time? When would I be living the manifestation of my calling?
Just like with the climb I knew I could do more but things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to.
I told God I am ready, I am trained, I am healed, I am educated… so what now? How much longer would I have to wait?
This is when it all began making sense; God was showing me that He was the one that gave me my desire and my purpose.
Learning to be humble and wait
He was the one who had made me a promise. He was the one who called me to the Mountain top and it would be Him that would bring that into fulfillment – all I needed was to be humble and wait.
Wait to be lifted up.
On the second day my new leader looked at me and said, “I can tell you’re doing well, and that your body is strong do you want to go back up a level?” I tried not to seem too overly excited and said, “Yes!”
The next morning as I woke up at 4am I thanked God for the opportunity to do what I had come and set out to do. I thanked him for fulfilling his promise and I prayed that I would get to that top of the mountain in VICTORY.
Each step I took I took with GRATITUDE. The air was cold and the trail we walked upon was slippery but we kept going.
The more we walked the quicker our pace became and so did my excitement. After all this is exactly what I had expected.
Living out a promise
The climb progressed and there were a few moments as we climbed in silence that my eyes filled up with tears because I was living out a promise that was given to me.
I remembered Micah 6:8, “Seek Justice, Love Mercy, and walk Humbly with YOUR GOD.”
This verse was on repeat throughout the year, every season enveloped with a new characteristic that needed to be developed and I had finally gotten to Humility, but I was not alone… God was walking with me.
I looked at the progression of the last three days and it was simple; Pain, Healing, Serving and Triumph. It was a summarization of my life and the picture God saw.
Getting to the top came quickly, and the moments at the summit where few. I did not contemplate the amount of time it took me to get there, the conditions or the exhaustion. I just basked in the glory of it – I was standing in a Holy place!
A place you only arrive to through obedience and humility.
The mountaintop was surreal, if it were not for the photo I may not believe I had gotten there.
Remembering God's faithfulness
But we could not remain on the mountaintop (mainly because we were freezing). The mountain top was a momentary place, a symbol, a lesson.
It would always be there for me to look back at and remember God’s faithfulness.
That everything God had spoken, He will bring to pass. That what He has purposed, He will do [Isaiah 46:11].
Karis Williams lives in Plantation Florida with her husband and dog. She is a US Navy veteran and currently works for a non-profit doing immigration / trafficking advocacy and has just graduated from a Masters in Global Affair. She loves going to the gym and the beach and is enjoying her new found hobbie of hiking!