Climbing a Mountain or Facing Life: Po-le Po-le

Written by John Renken on December 13, 2013

John 16:13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Recently, I returned from a trip to Tanzania, Africa where I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, which stands at 19,341 feet above sea level. It is a massive inactive volcano and was a very challenging climb to say the least. When we met our guides and got started on our trek we heard “Po-le, po-le” (pronounced po-lay), which is Swahili for slowly, slowly. The guides repeat this mantra over and over as the key for success on the mountain.

As I was talking with the guides, they told me that many of the people who don’t make it to the Summit of the mountain didn’t make it because they ignored the advice of their guides and climbed to quickly. As a result, they couldn’t continue because they were overcome by AMS.

AMS, or Acute Mountain Sickness, can begin to take affect as soon as 8000 ft. above sea level. AMS is a very serious condition that could actually kill you if the appropriate actions are not taken.  

While listening to my guides about the importance of going slowly, I was reminded of the words of Jesus. Shortly before the Crucifixion he was giving his last words to the Disciples. He told them that it was good that He would go away because another Comforter was coming. He said the comforter would guide them into all truth.

I love that verse about the Holy Spirit for a number of reasons, but for this post, I just want to look at two. First, He came to earth to guide us into all truth. This is so important in the last days. Right now, across America many preachers are preaching a message that isn’t the gospel, but a message of damnation, a message intended to put believers back under the law. However, if we would listen to the Holy Spirit, He would teach us the truth, and the truth is grace and grace alone. It is about the finished work of Jesus on the cross!

Second, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a person with His own personality and a distinct function. I love that He isn’t an “IT”. I think we often forget that the Holy Spirit is alive and has His own personality. Notice that Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will tell us what He hears.  

You might be thinking: so what’s the point? The point is this: As a Christian you have the Holy Spirit to listen to. He is our guide through this life, like my guides who led me up Mt. Kilimanjaro; and the Holy Spirit, like those guides, tells us the truth to help us reach our destination. I wonder how many times in my life I was too focused on the goal, the end of the journey, or the summit, instead of listening to His voice. How many times have I missed His whisper of “Po-le, po-le”.

I believe in the midst of economic or natural disasters, terrorism, moral collapse, faulty preaching, or just every day life our guide is speaking the truth to us.  I think we would be much better off if we would just listen to Him. He is speaking to us all the time. Imagine a life completely guided by the Holy Spirit.  

In the midst of whatever you are doing, will you listen to your guide? Will you hear him say “Po-le, po-le”?

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A self proclaimed “scrapper” since childhood, John Renken grew up with a burning interest in physical challenges and a strong competitive spirit which has led him to develop quite an impressive reputation in the professional fighting community. Reaching the pinnacle of his career, Renken now has over 68 professional mixed martial arts and boxing matches under his belt and many first place titles spanning three different continents. A former Satanist, Renken’s life has taken many interesting twists and turns along the way to redemption. He now pastors a church called Freedom Church and writes about topics of interest in our country.