Step One of this lesson also on video!
Real Life Downloaded | High School Lesson 2 | 12/09/2018 from David C Cook on Vimeo.
On the north side of Yosemite Valley stands a 3,000-foot vertical granite monolith known as El Capitan. Named for its undisputed dominion over the valley, the southwest face of the mountain has long been considered by the rock-climbing community to contain some of the most difficult routes on the planet. To put into perspective just how difficult some of the climbs are, the face wasn’t summited until years after Mt. Everest, and despite being four times shorter, took climbers longer to complete.
However, as time passed and technology improved, it became clear that any climb could be achieved with enough perseverance, ropes, and hole drilling. Many climbers have gone on to not only climb the southwestern face of El Cap but have sought out the most difficult way to do so, now with even the most inconceivable routes being conquered.
Nevertheless, there is one achievement on El Capitan that was, until recently, widely regarded as beyond human capability: free soloing. Free soloing is a niche style of climbing in which the climber uses no ropes, no gear, nothing at all to catch them if they fall. Obviously, this is the most dangerous form of climbing in existence, and combined with the length, pitch, and surface of El Capitan make it a feat that many considered to be beyond the bounds of possibility.
At least they did until 31-year-old Alex Honnold free-soloed all 3,000 feet in June of last year. The climb made big headlines everywhere when it happened, but since then, the climbing community has been anxiously awaiting the release of photographer Jimmy Chin’s incredible 360 video footage, to experience the climb first hand.
Play the following clip for your students. Be sure to note that this is a 360-degree video, use the arrows in the upper left corner to adjust the field of view in real time [6:48].
Free Solo 360 | National Geographic
The word impossible was thrown around a lot when Honnold completed the route. In response to Honnold’s summit, one climber on Reddit wrote, “Pictures cannot do justice to the immensity of El Cap. Standing there, it looks impossible. Not difficult. Impossible. I mean, it doesn’t look merely vertical and smooth, its overhanging! This modest unassuming kid, he has done the impossible—and made it look easy. Unbelievable. ”
And while there is no doubt that this achievement ranks high among the most impressive physical and mental accomplishments in human history, Alex Honnold himself stated that he never once viewed it as impossible. He knew that with enough physical and mental preparation he could achieve it.
During an interview after the climb, he said the following, “After two seasons of working specifically toward a potential free solo of El Cap, I finally finished all my preparations. I knew every handhold and foothold on the whole route, and I knew exactly what to do…I felt confident as I looked up the wall. I felt even better as I started climbing. And then I reached the summit after three hours and 56 minutes of glorious climbing. It was the climb that I wanted, and it felt like mastery.”
- How often do you let doubt stand in the way of achieving something? Why? (Allow this conversation to take its natural course, unpacking reasons your students identify and inserting some they may miss. Fear of failure, low self-esteem, inability to trust, not wanting to be in a position where you are not in control, etc. are a few things that may surface.)
Often, doubt is the greatest hindrance to achieving our “impossibles.” God has said that He can do anything with faith like a mustard seed, but it’s up to us to come to Him free of doubt and full of faith. Today, we’ll learn how to eliminate our doubt in God’s ability to achieve the impossible in our lives.
Alex Honnold free solos a 5.12d route on El Capitan. WHAT.
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
- Internet access
- Five Steps worksheet printouts (1 per student; template found here)
Before class, print out a copy of the Five Steps worksheet for each of your students (template here).
Through the Bible, we know that God has time and time again demonstrated that He can and does do the impossible. Whether it be raising the dead, parting the Red Sea, or creating the miraculous conception of a child, God does perform miracles. Nevertheless, we’ve learned today that when we doubt that miracles can be performed in our own lives, we get in the way of God doing everything He’s capable of. With that in mind, in the last step of today’s lesson, we’ll work on increasing our capacity for trust.
At first glance, this can seem pretty daunting. How do we improve on something so abstract? Well today we’re going to move through a practical framework for improving our capacity for trust each day.
Instruct your students to break up into groups of five. Hand out a copy of the worksheet to each student along with writing utensils. Tell your teens that their goal is to move through the five steps listed on the worksheet as a group, with each member taking turns facilitating the conversation by reviewing the verses and corresponding statement and asking the discussion question. Encourage everyone in the small group to share how this verse relates to both the specific step and their individual lives. If you end up with a group less than five, have adult helpers join in or have group members facilitate more than one question.
Once your students have completed this exercise, instruct them to reform into a single group. Challenge them to take their worksheet home and review it during the week by looking up the verses again and asking God what He wants them to do in response to each question personally.
Close today’s lesson by thanking God for making the impossible possible for every single one of us. Pray for God to begin working in you and your students, removing the doubt that keeps all of us from reaching new levels of trust.
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