Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Ich Kaan Nigt Mehr" - I Can Go No Further

The mountain peak over my left shoulder is the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland. The shadow portion on the left side of the Eiger is the infamous north face. In 1936 Adolph Hitler challenged German climbers to climb the Eiger's north face, a feat never before accomplished in human history, in a desire to spread publicity regarding the upcoming 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Two Germans and two Austrians, led by German mountaineer Toni Kurz, took Hitler up on his challenge and attempted to climb the north face of the Eiger. All four moutain climbers died in the process. Toni Kurz was the last one to die, and the story of his death is gutwrenching. After losing all three of his companions to either rock slides or roping accidents, Toni Kurz found himself trapped on the end of a long rope, dangling for two days from the sheer mountain side. He dropped his left glove, and his hand froze in the frigid air. A rescue team was sent up the mountain to rescue Toni, but because the team also lost a rope, they had not enough rope to facilitate the rescue, falling two meters short of being able to reach Toni. Seeing his rescuers could advance no further, Toni worked for five hours with his one hand,  attempting to tie together two ropes to lower himself to the rescues, but after his painful and unfruitful attempt to lower himself a mere six feet, Toni Kurz looked at his rescuers and uttered in German:
"Ich kann nigt mehr." 
Translated, those four German words mean "I can go no further."  At that very moment Toni Kurz died. It would be two weeks later that another Austrian rescue team reclaimed the body of Toni Kurz.

The story of Tony Kurz and the unsuccessful 1936 attempt to conquer Eiger is grippingly retold in the 1960 classic book The White Spider (reprinted in 1998). Most people know of the Eiger because of Clint Eastwood's movie The Eiger Sanction, but for drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense, nothing tops the 2008 German movie (with English subtitles) North Face, which recreates the true story  of Toni Kurz and his failed attempt at climbing the Eiger.

We are staying at the Eiger Hotel, directly across from Eiger mountain, and as I thought of Tony Kurz's last words - "Ich kann nigt mehr" - I can go no further - I couldn't help but think about how similar physically death is to spiritual rebirth.

The moment a person comes to the end of himself, an event Jesus calls "dying to self," which is in essence a person giving up and dying to self-effort, self-will, and self-love - what Paul Tripp calls "The Kingdom of Self" - then Jesus Christ takes over.

So death and hope go hand in hand in the Kingdom of God. I die to self that I might really live, empowered by God, for His kingdom and not my own.

I can go no further. But God can do through me what I never dreamed possible.


Pege' said...

Mit Gott sind alle Dinge möglich. Ich vermag alles therough Christus, der mich zu stärken. Gelobt sei Gott, der solche irdenen Gefäßen benutzt, um seine Arbeit zu tun. Wade, schauen zu den muntains woher kommt Ihre Hilfe kommen? Ihnen zu helfen, kommt vom Herrn, der sie gemacht.

Anonymous said...


Garen Martens said...

Isn't Murren a fantastic place? Be sure to go to Gimmelwald.

Wade Burleson said...


We hope to do so! Thanks for all the suggestions this trip!



Need a little translation! :) My German is about as good as my Polish! :)

Nancy said...

How many of us have faced some sort of "mountain" with which, if not for Jesus, we truly could have gone no further?

Switzerland. Wow. Have a wonderful visit, and be careful not to OD on the chocolate! :)

Gordon said...

'Death' also happens to be the answer to many marital and family problems. If we would but die to ourselves and seek the welfare of others, the union will flourish. The trouble is some of us grow old too soon und schmart too late. And yet the Lord promises to restore the years that the locusts have eaten.

Pege' said...

Wade, With God all things are possible. I can do all things through Christ, strengthen me. Praise be to God who uses such earthen vessels, in order to do its job. Wade looking to the mountains where does your help come from? To help you, comes from the Lord who made them.

Gordon said...

When the situation arises in our service for the Lord that "Ich kann nicht mehr; ich bin kaputt", then we remember how Jesus set his face as a flint to go to Jerusalem to accomplish that which his Father had sent him to do. Fellow pilgrims always encourage and support one another to keep right on to the end of the road. What a blessing to have friends who speak courage and hope into a difficult situation. Thank you , Lord.

Ramesh said...

The "mountains" that appear in our paths are lot of times created by our fellowmen, brothers and sisters. And some of our own making.

When we reach "I can go no further" we have arrived in God's work and sanctuary.

Anonymous said...

"(3). Any aid the American government gives to foreign countries should be only humanitarian in nature (food, water, medical, housing, etc...)."

If you mean to to adhere to that statement and advocate for the discontinuing of the nearly three billion a year in military aid to Israel, I find myself shockingly agreeing with you.