False Summits

“In April, my dad, Wayne, was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. We have not known the full extent of the cancer until recently when they went in to remove the bladder and found that it had spread into the soft tissue around the bladder and had entered a lymph node. As of July 28th, he has started his first of four two-week long Chemo treatments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.” – Shawn Gruenhagen

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8 NIV

A hiking friend recently compared my current situation (being diagnosed with Bladder Cancer in April) to hiking a 14er, a peak that exceeds 14,000 feet, in Colorado. I’ve hiked 13 different peaks with our sons and a couple with our daughters-in-law. Some 14ers have false summits, which means that the actual summit is hidden from view. When you finally reach what you thought was the summit, you realize the actual summit is still some distance ahead. Mt. Democrat is one of those with, I remember, three false summits. False summits can be demoralizing, but there is only one way to summit: keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Faith isn’t something a person gets at some point in their life, but it is a journey and needs to be nourished. False summits will come, but the only way to find the true summit is to keep pushing one foot in front of the other.

Several years ago, I bought our sons a bumper sticker that said, “False summits suck!” Cancer sucks; I’ve had several “false summits” along this journey. I was talking with an army buddy of mine Saturday night, and he asked how a person handles a situation like cancer. My big picture is to survive this. In itself, it is too big. I need to continue to take one step at a time and keep moving forward. The current plan is chemotherapy, which is now necessary because the surgeons found more cancer, yet another false summit. However, each treatment will be another step towards recovery.

I’ve always considered myself as having faith in God even though I may not have always acted that way. About 10 years ago, I realized that faith isn’t something a person gets at some point in their life, but it is a journey and needs to be nourished. These last years have been a joyful journey for me. In addition to the pastors and members of our church, scripture has certainly helped me through my situation. There are many passages in the Bible that one can refer to, but I find myself going to Psalm 103, Isaiah 40:28-31 & 41:10 and Ephesians 2:8.

How will this cancer journey end? Only God knows the summit.


Have you had moments in your life that seem like a “False Summit?”

How do you tackle these moments?

What are you doing to nourish your faith journey? How can you help others do the same?


By Wayne Gruenhagen

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Posted in Devotionals