I recently heard a story that was pulled from the pages of Australia’s history books. It struck me as a good lesson on how to approach and handle modern-day struggles.
In the late 1790’s the common belief throughout the Australian colony was that the region beyond the imposing Blue Mountains was lush and fertile. As such, numerous explorers set out to try and to conquer the area. While planning their trips, as conventional wisdom would suggest, they steered clear of the steep ridges and deep gorges of the terrain. Instead, they followed the more inviting routes, such as rivers and gently rolling paths.
However, as they discovered, these easier pathways eventually gave way to hostile terrain. Each excursion turned out to be a fool’s errand. In the end, most of the explorers concluded passing through the Blue Mountains was just plain impossible. As far as they were concerned, the green pastures on the other side were inaccessible.
By 1813, the colony was gripped in the stranglehold of an awful drought. With their food supply dwindling, Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his people were at the end of their rope. If only they could get to the other side of the Blue Mountains, they’d have access to the arable fields they needed to survive.
You’ve heard the saying that desperate times call for desperate measures? Three men—Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth—felt just that way. These farmers wondered if maybe, just maybe, the easiest routes previously attempted to cross the Blue Mountains weren’t the best routes. They decided to do the “impossible” and cross the mountains by following the rough and jagged ridges.
In other words, instead of going around the mountains, they decided to go over them.
Pretty gutsy, eh mate?
To the great astonishment of many, this unorthodox approach was successful. A new pathway was established, resources were procured, and the colony began to grow with great gusto.
I believe there’s a parallel to our struggles: The easiest route to a solution isn’t always the best. And, with risk there often comes a reward. What’s more, sometimes it takes dire circumstances (like a drought) to shake, rattle and roll conventional wisdom. Admittedly, traversing along ridges and walking within the steep canyons and deep is not for the faint-hearted. Perhaps that’s what motivated David, a shepherd who became King of Israel, to write this lyric, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
The late Arthur Gordon, an author and editor of several popular magazines, once told the story of talking with a British mountain climber who often found himself in precarious situations. “What do you do then?” Gordon asked incredulously.
“Well,” the fellow said matter-of-factly, “When you can’t go down, you jolly well go up!”
Are you facing a difficult problem today? Are you trying to solve an “impossible” or “insurmountable” challenge? Have you weighed all your options? Have you prayed about the best way to a solution?
Maybe the answer to your “insurmountable” problem is to do the difficult thing and take the hard way.