Mastering Monument

            “We’re going up that?”

            My hunting partner, Joe, studied the treacherous Monument Trail like a pugilist gauging combat. Standing in the bed of his bright yellow, 1949 one-ton Ford, I searched for hand holds. Monument sneered down at us, and suddenly Joe hopped behind the big black steering wheel and slammed the iron door. He had just touched gloves with his opponent, and the fight was on.

            With a hammy right hand, Joe finessed the gearshift into ground-gnawing low range. He nodded to his elderly passenger, Mel, the owner of a hunting cabin (our destination), and revved the old flathead six-cylinder engine. Our all-terrain “moose buggy” growled, spoiling for the fight.

            The rig’s soft airplane tires had scarcely left a track upon muskeg, before we set upon Monument. It was a credit to men like Joe who loved Alaska “the old way”—conserving the land in harmony with receiving its bounty.

            The vintage Ford stuck its nose in the air, and from the back of the truck I warily studied the rutty hunting trail meandering steeply ahead of us.

            What would happen if the Ford slipped out of gear midway on our quarter-mile climb? I glanced over my shoulder and imagined where the hefty ‘49 would crash-land on rocks and jagged stumps—it wouldn’t be pretty.

             Joe had seen it happen years before. From Monument’s brow, he had watched a friend’s truck lose power, slip out of gear and careen to the bottom. The driver had leaped clear before his buggy slammed onto its side in the brush, steaming in a mangled heap.

            “Sure ruined a great hunt,” Joe had mused.

            Why couldn’t we go around Monument? We were taking the shortest, most efficient route to bag our moose and caribou before the expected change in the weather.

            The vintage six-cylinder engine thrummed steadily like an old Maytag washer, until we reached Monument’s steep forehead—and all four over-sized airplane tires began to spin. They jounced us airborne, flinging muddy moraine up the sides of the old yellow heavyweight. I couldn’t see Joe, except for one bulky arm sticking out the buggy window, and he drew it inside right when ’49 slewed off the trail. 

            We were nearly sideways on Monument now, digging deep ruts, but Joe kept his head and steadied his acceleration, holding the gear shift firmly in low. Patiently, he waited for the tires to grab, and we lurched out of the ruts, crawling slowly back on course. Minutes later we parked atop Monument’s sullen crown, taking in the breathtaking views.

            Whenever I feel my spiritual life slewing sideways into dangerous ruts, I recall the old Ford’s airplane tires spitting gravel down Monument’s flanks. Like Joe, a believer in Jesus never needs to panic. God’s Word teaches us how to steer out of the ruts and reclaim the trail.

            And our Creator never fails to deliver the traction we need to overcome any Monument looming before us.        

Psa. 121:3

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber…

Prayer Focus:

As I walk in the Spirit, Lord, keep me where you know I’ll find traction. I don’t want to miss the view at the top.   


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