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Giving Up Everest

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Imagine that you have almost reached the pinnacle of your life's ambition, but a painful dilemma stands between you and your goal. What choices do you really have—and what are the consequences?


Climbing high on the north slope of Mount Everest last May 26, guide Daniel Mazur made a shocking discovery. Mazur, his two clients and a Sherpa guide were just two hours from Everest's 29,035-foot peak when they found Lincoln Hall, a 50-year-old climber whose guides had left him for dead the day before. Hall's first words to Mazur were, "I imagine you are surprised to see me here!"

Indeed, he was. As Mazur told Associated Press, "I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200 feet height, just sitting up there" ("Man Gives up Everest Climb for Rescue," June 8, 2006).

After meeting the dying Hall, Mazur and his party faced a life-or-death decision. Just two hours away from reaching Everest's summit, should they turn back and save a man's life? Or should they pursue their own goal, and ignore a dying man's plight?

Mazur and his clients had spent thousands of dollars, and had flown halfway around the world. They had invested much in their goal. They had faced—and conquered—many obstacles to come as far as they had. Was there a temptation to pass Hall by and leave him there?

There was—and other climbers did pass Hall by. "While Mazur's team was busy assisting Hall, two… climbers walked past them toward the summit… 'I don't know why they didn't want to stop to help,' Mazur said. 'I hope when I am there, in that state, and someone passes me... I hope it is someone like me'" (ibid.) Hall's situation was not unique. Just one week before, on May 15, nearly 40 climbers walked right by 34-year-old David Sharp, who was about 1,000 feet into his descent. Sharp died.

Most of us are not climbing Everest. But if we are Christians, we have been called to lay down our lives for one another. Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan to show that we all should be willing to help one another in time of need—even if it means we must sacrifice something. What are you willing to sacrifice for your neighbor, mate, or family members? Your time? Your own goals? Your pride?

Jesus told this story: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side… But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him" (Luke 10:30–35).

We do not know what the Samaritan gave up so that he could help that man. But whatever the inconvenience, he had compassion, he stopped to think about others and he took care of a need. Mazur was a true neighbor to a lonely, scared and dying climber up there on the slopes of Everest. We should look around and see who needs us—and whom we can serve and help in their need.

Did Mazur have any regrets about giving up the summit to save another human being? As he told the Associated Press, "We all looked at the summit and then returned," he said. "We all agreed there was no choice."

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