Touching the Void – I Hope You Never Fear Those Mountains in the Distance

Theme: Keep moving on with God

Bible refs: Joshua 14 vv 6-15

Similar clips: Mission Impossible – Mountain Top Experiences

Location of clip: 18 secs to 3 mins and 3 secs


Film Description:

This is the true and remarkable story of Joe Simpson’s journey back down Siula Grande peak, with a badly broken leg and a shattered ankle. He and fellow climber Simon Yates had reached the summit, in the Peruvian Andes, and were on their way back down when Joe slipped, smashed his leg and fell down a crevasse. Simon, thinking his friend was dead, cut the rope and ventured back to base camp, alive but devastated. Joe meanwhile, endured the pain and began the long slow crawl back down the mountain.


Clip description:

This is the opening credit sequence – the introduction by Joe and Simon to their catastrophic climb. Joe talks about their passion for climbing, they were reckless, daring, anarchic. Climbing was fun to them, the mountains a challenge that they faced with energy and wit. They weren’t going to be cowed by the size of the climb. The enormous challenge of it was just what appealed to them.

Joe has slipped off the mountain and falling into the crevasse. He is alone now, Simon can not find him and believes there is no way he could have survived. Joe lowers himself onto what he thinks is the floor of the crevasse. He soon discovers it is only a wafer thin shelf, and that too much weight and too much movement will smash the icy floor and spell death for him. Inch by agonising inch he crawls across, and slowly, very slowly he climbs up the opposite wall and eases his way out of the crevasses through a tiny hole. Every step puts pressure on his broken leg, but he can’t think about that, he can only concentrate on climbing.


Life throws us any number of mountains to climb. Some we can choose to go round, some we avoid for a while, some we just have to don the gear and start going up. In her song I Hope You Dance, Leanne Womack offers us the line ‘ I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, never settle for the path of least resistance.’ That’s something Caleb, in the book of Joshua, would certainly concur with. ‘Give me that hill country,’ he says. ‘I want a challenge.’
Caleb is extraordinary in his courage, daring and good humour. After years of desert living, after months of battling, after the disappointment of not getting in to the promised land the first time, he still wants more. He still wants that challenge that was once promised to him. Let me at them hills – I’ll take the tough country all right!

This is not Last of the Summer Wine territory. Caleb won’t be happy seeing out his days wandering around reminiscing. He wants to forge onward. Keep climbing. Battle the giants.

If only I was like that. I’ll avoid the problems if I can. If it’s a toss up between a molehill and a mountain – I’ll take the molehill thanks.

In his book, Risky Living, Jamie Buckingham once wrote this – If a man is going to die, let him die climbing. Well, we all of us will die, and we all of us face mountains. Maybe somehow we can pluck up a little more courage and pick up that pickaxe. Maybe right now, we have little choice anyway. The reality is that for most of us mountains aren’t an optional extra, they’re part of the journey. They just lie there on route, waiting for us. So what helps us? What helps you climb the mountains?

My problem is I’m like the guy who came to Jesus and said “I believe, help me with my unbelief…”

I know the theology and the theories, and I have some courage – it’s just that I need a lot more. I also have a huge stack of fears.

What do you think?

1.         What sort of things encourage you to keep going?

2.         Do you know older Christians who are still growing in their faith?

3.         Does church keep you growing – does it push you forward with God?

4.         The fear of persecution has been a big shadow in my life – the book of Revelation is no bundle of laughs for me. Are you able to talk to others about some of your fears? Can you pray about your fears with others?

5.                  Did the clip make you think about anything else?

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