By Chris Bates

The Maroon Bells peaks provide some of the most majestic views in the Rocky Mountain range.  At over 14,000 feet, they are truly breathtaking from below, and are daunting and challenging to scale. One July weekend, my cousin and I set out to do just that. 

Starting in the cool early morning before first light, we left town and drove out to a primary trailhead. We took what we needed in small packs, including extra food and supplies, climbing rods and water, and we set out toward the snow-covered peaks in the distance. Although I was in pretty good shape, he had lived in the area for many years and I was a visitor from sea level.  Once we got to a 10,000-foot elevation, my lungs were burning severely and my body was screaming for oxygen and rest. 

Kitchen Tune-Up

We made our goal in a high saddle area next to a small mountain lake between the peaks. I was excited and overwhelmed by the view and the accomplishment, but my body was spent. It had never occurred to me how difficult the hike back out could be, and it turned grueling. With dark being imminent and our lack of enough gear for an overnight on the mountainside, there was no choice but to keep plodding one step in front of another. He must have said a hundred times, “We gotta move.” 

It was taught to me years ago during a season of significant life struggle that we must keep moving forward because to stand still is to lose ground. Being stagnant makes us susceptible to too many opportunities for fear or shame to set in. The key piece to remember, though, is that when we move forward, we must wear the armor that we are provided. We are not expected by our Creator to battle in this world alone. We have two significant sets of tools.

The first tool is to put on the armor that He provides. Ephesians 6:13-17 specifically gives that to us: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Identify your pieces of armor and put them on every day.

The second tool is made of those around us. When we surround ourselves with the right ones, they are guiding and encouraging us, and we do the same for them in turn. Proverbs 27:17 proclaims: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Sometimes called “God with skin on,” the power through others will move us forward through anything that this world puts in our way.

We did make it out from our Maroon Bells venture, but all these years later I still take away the lesson of having to just stay in the fight, continue the journey, and hear that voice that says, “We gotta move.” The grand difference in daily life as it is today, though, is that I have learned so much more about our perpetual companion. God never leaves us, He never quits encouraging through fellow warriors and the Word, and He sees our destinations clearly.  

Chris Bates is CEO of AgoraEversole, a full service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at He and his wife, Stacy, live in Madison and have adult children and three grand boys.





Pro-Life Mississippi