Phil 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel”.
He really did not look good. His walking was now very staggered and for the last half a mile the guide and I were dragging him between our shoulders. The leather on the front of his boots were all scuffed, flayed with large pieces falling off as they took the brunt of the ordeal to get him to the next camp. I had seen this scenario before, and I knew that Andy, my best mate since the age of 16, was in big trouble. The Himalayas towered above us, the sun was disappearing and as we laid Andy down the strong Nepali guide looked at me and shook his head. It was then I knew we were in for a long night.
I called Helen, my wife in Kathmandu, as an emergency nurse and team medic she said to me, “Whatever happens, stay with him the whole night, check his pulse and breathing every hour without fail – stay alert and stay focussed”.
The oxygen levels at 14,500 feet are between 25 to 30 percent less than normal so breathing at times is very challenging. I did not sleep the whole night; indeed, I did not want to sleep. Two words stayed with me through the whole night as I prayed and looked after my friend - ‘whatever happens’ . This was no time for sleeping. Being cold was of no consequence to me as I felt as though I was engaged in a higher purpose. I wanted my friend to have the best of me. Everything I did, every action, everything I wrote down mattered. I vividly remember my focus was both completely and resolutely fixed.
The next morning his condition had not changed, though he was stable. Helen made the call for a mountain rescue helicopter to attend. Andy was still finding it difficult to breath, he could hardly walk and the altitude sickness had gripped him and we needed to get him off the mountain fast. As the helicopter landed my parting words to Andy were, “You better be really sick mate, this helicopter is costing us $8,000”!. After he got to Kathmandu he was told that if he had stayed in the mountains for another night he would have died.
The Apostle Paul, sitting in a cold and wet prison cell in Rome wrote to a congregation in Phillipi that he himself had planted years earlier. They were going through a time of great persecution and hardship. His encouragement and rallying call to this resolute group of disciples was this, “whatever happens…live a life worthy of the Gospel”.
What we do and how we respond to Paul’s rallying call really matters. This current Pandemic is not a moment for sleeping, indeed quite the opposite. We are each engaged in a higher purpose and it is a moment that we would want God to, ‘ have the best of us’. It is a time when our spirits and focus need to be resolutely fixed upon the author and perfecter of our faith. – Jesus Christ.