Helvellyn's Beauty, His Children's Safety

Not wishing to be beaten by last week’s cold, I spent yesterday climbing Helvellyn. This is England’s third highest peak, located between Ullswater and Thirlmere. My companion’s wife fortified us with the usual packed lunches, consisting of cheese sandwiches, pork pies and Tunnock’s Teacakes. We remarked that we were the only climbers that day likely to go home fatter than when we started.

It was a decent day; sunshine interspersed with cloud cover, dry and around 8 degrees. Up we hiked till we reached the pinnacle at 10am. What glories we saw. Those views were ridiculously beautiful. The clouds’ shadows danced on the fells and the sunshine brought to life the browning bracken. The whole walk lasted 7 hours, but from beginning to end we were minded of God’s creative genius. Lakeland is stunningly attractive, which is why so many flock to it each year, cramming the car parks and eroding the paths. Yet how many will give the glory to God? How many admire the artwork but give no credit to the artist?

The second thought which lingered in my head was a decision we had to take shortly after leaving Helvellyn’s summit. We had planned to walk down Swirral Edge and then back up along Striding Edge. These are narrow, challenging paths, flanked by steep, unforgiving drops. So strong was the wind that on the top we couldn’t stand upright nor walk in a straight line. It brought the temperature down to near zero, so the hand scrambling which the two edges demanded would have proved difficult. Yet plenty of others were walking those paths, could we not just follow suit? Was it a lack of faith in God’s protection which persuaded us to take those routes another day, probably a warm summer’s morning in ’21?

Minimising risk and keeping safe is no rejection of God’s protective promise. We are called to be prudent. As members of the royal family, we might consider taking even greater care, for we have many duties to perform while still in the body. Christ’s people ought not to be frivolous and careless in their living. From a high place in Matthew 4, Satan urged the Lord Jesus:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’


‘In their hands they shall bear you up,

Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (NKJV)

Striding Edge has claimed many lives, most famous of which was Charles Gough’s, whose memorial graces Helvellyn’s top. He fell to his death in 1805, his dog only surviving by eating his leftovers. I have no doubt that, should yesterday afternoon have seen my foot slip, any number of angels might have been sent to effect a rescue. Assuming my summons home was not that day, the Lord of Heaven would have provided for my deliverance. But like air-ambulances sent to rescue foolish and ill-prepared walkers, why should angelic energy be spent rescuing me from folly?

Keep sound wisdom and discretion;

So they will be life to your soul

And grace to your neck.

Then you will walk safely in your way,

And your foot will not stumble.

Proverbs 3:21b-23