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Kaylee clung to the 66-foot climbing wall, about 1/3 of the way up. I could see that the teenager from my youth group was tired.

“Okay, I’m done. I can’t go any further. Let me down.”

“No. You can do this. I’ll let you rest, but you’re going to keep climbing.” Samantha, a counselor on staff at the camp, held Kaylee’s belay firmly. “I’m not going to let you give up. Keep going.”

Last week I attended Pensacola Christian College’s Teen Extreme with my church’s youth group. Our days were full of spiritual encouragement from the sermons and devotional times. But the young people learned important life lessons from the games and activities as well.

The events pushed the teens out of their comfort zones.

The games taught the kids to work together as a team and listen to instructions.

The Wacky Olympics showed young people that there’s more fun to be had during the summer than sitting with eyes glued to screens.

And the rock wall?

Well, the rock wall taught one girl a very important lesson in never giving up.

Kaylee had already climbed the shorter walls and decided the tackle the highest wall next. At 66 feet, it towered above us. She climbed steadily for the first 20 feet, but then began to tire. Her legs ached and her hands tingled from clinging to the hand holds fixed into the wall.

I could hear the weariness in her voice when she called down to Samantha. She really, really wanted to give up.

But Samantha wouldn’t let her. She knew Kaylee could climb that wall. All she needed was a little encouragement.

And someone who wouldn’t let her give up.

“Come on, just grab the hand hold to your right. Now lift your left foot up. Good! You’ve got this. Keep going.”

I watched as little by little, Kaylee scaled the wall. Three times she stopped to rest, with Samantha holding the belay from below. And three times, she started again, climbing in spite of the pain in her arms and legs.

Nearly to the top, Kaylee grabbed the last hand-hold and pulled herself up. With a shaking hand, she touched the taped arrow at the top of the wall, signaling her victory over the 66-foot challenge. Those of us watching below cheered and clapped as Samantha lowered her to the floor.

Later, back at home, Kaylee told her story to our church. She confirmed what I’d been hoping and praying: that she learned to never give up. A simple climbing wall taught her a life lesson she will always remember.

 

 

 

 

Life is hard. As I write this, my prayer list comes to mind. One glance at this list reveals precious people fighting cancer, loved ones in relationship struggles, friends battling undiagnosed illnesses, families in financial distress, and a family reeling from suicide.

Life is painful, and at times, desperate. We feel like giving up. We feel like yelling to God, “Ok, I’m done! Let me down. I want off this wall now.”

If this is your situation today, please don’t give up. Don’t give up trusting God, don’t give up serving Him, and don’t give up believing that He will help you conquer all that He’s asked you to do.

Perhaps the wall you’re climbing seems to stretch on with no end in sight, and you need a rest. That’s okay. God never condemns our need for refreshment. In fact, He urges us to come to Him and rest.

Or maybe you need an encourager to help you keep going. God gives us Christian friends to help us, to spur us on when our hearts desperately want to quit. Don’t hide your struggles from your friends; God intends for us to help each other scale the tough walls of life.

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite verses–a verse that has encouraged me many times when I was halfway up a wall, wanting to give up.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

Never give up!