Begin with the end in mind

23 08 2011

 ‘Begin with the end in mind’ is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people and in Luke 9:51 we read about Jesus making a step change that illustrates it – “As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” 

Paradoxically, Jerusalem is where he will face death (See Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:44-45). It’s as if death brings into focus the need to maximise life.  So far all his living and teaching, healing and relating have been preparation – vital preparation. Now comes the final push to Jerusalem.


One of my holiday reads was Bear Grylls’ autobiography Mud, sweat and tears.  He writes about climbing Everest.  It’s almost a parable – the focus, the scale of the task –

“Mick and I spent those early weeks together climbing in the lower foothills of the Himalayas, acclimatizing ourselves, and starting to get a sense of the scale of the task that lay ahead.

We hiked out way higher into the heart of the mountains, until eventually we found ourselves at 17,450 feet, at the foot of the Khumba Icefall and the start of the Everest climb in earnest…

They say that to climb Everest successfully you actually climb the mountain five times over. This is because of having to ascend then descend her continually, in an attempt to allow you body to adjust slowly to the extreme altitude.

Each time we reached a new high point, we would have to turn around the next morning and descend towards base camp in order to let our bodies recover from the beating.

The long hours of slow ascent would be gone in an hour or two of rappelling back down the same icy faces…Ten hours to climb up, one hour to rap back down.

The highest that our bodies would be able to acclimatize to would be camp three at about twenty four and a half thousand feet.

Above that the body is effectively ‘dying’, as you enter what is grimly known as the ‘Death Zone’.  Here you can no longer digest food effectively, and your body weakens exponentially in the thin air and lack of oxygen.

It was clear that this climb would be a systematic war of attrition between acclimatizing our bodies and keeping our spirits fired. And that is before you add into the pot illness, exhaustion, injuries and bad weather.

Quietly we all knew that, to be successful here, many factors would have to come good at the right time.”

I’ll look at the implications of the “parable” next time. 
You can read it in full on pages 278-283.




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