I am reminded that I don’t have a head for heights! It’s no secret. Even climbing a ladder makes my palms go sweaty!
I have often tried to stress this to those that tried to make me go places I dared not. Like I tried to stress this to my youth pastor one sunny winter’s afternoon, on a rocky ledge a few hundred feet up the side of a valley. We were on out on a church retreat and I was with a couple of friends. And her.
The guys had hung their rock-climbing apparatus from the top of the valley for the entertainment of daring dimwits. The idea was to attempt an “assisted” climb to as high as you could manage (if not the top), after which you would be lowered to the ledge. It made for exhilarating, well, watching, certainly.
Then my pastor [he remains a person I greatly admire for reasons I cannot think of just at this moment] suddenly approached me and suggested I give it a try. He took no heed of my stern warnings and excuses. Tuned me that it would be good for me.
So, before I knew it, I was strapped into the harness and preparing to get cosy with the wall of granite. My hands turned white the instant they touched that rock. Big baby started to moan.
“No, I can’t do it!”
“Yes, you can! Come on, Rich! Your first foothold’s a little to the left at your right foot.”
I somehow fumbled my way to not quite the height of my pastor’s head and then my fingers (which were numb at this stage) started to slip. Everyone could see that I was in trouble.
“Okay, just let go. Let go!”
A condensed autobiography played out before my eyes. My career. My guitar. All the girls that I had ever hoped to marry… With a jerk, my body was yanked from the rock face and tossed out over the valley. I let out a scream that was probably heard from low-flying aircraft.
Eventually I started to breathe again. My feet were dangling a few hundred feet above the bottom of the valley, but I was not falling! The rope had me.
I asked the belayer to leave me there for nearly a full minute, so that I could savor as much free space as I would ever again let come between my feet and terra firma. Then I turned to face my audience. She was watching me. She was grinning.
Perhaps falling all the way to the bottom was not such a bad idea.
This is a little story about faith. Why was I so afraid to let go of the rock face when I realised that I wasn’t going to scale it? Could it be doubt? What if the rope doesn’t support my weight? What if I haven’t been strapped in properly? What if the pin comes out at the top? Stupid concerns, you may think. But they weren’t stupid to me when the possibility of a plunge to my death was a reality!
I have other concerns that often seem just as real. What if my future wife isn’t anything like the woman I’d like to be with? What if I stop looking so hard and never find her? What if…
Just as the guys assured me a hundred times that the rope would catch me, God promises in His Word that He has my life tied at the top.
For as long as I am stressing to secure love, I am clinging white-knuckled to the rock. God is urging me that if I let go, He will not only catch me, He will give me an experience in this life the likes of which I cannot even imagine! I had no choice but to trust my friends on the rock face that afternoon in the valley and it was an experience that I will never forget.
God’s rope can more than take your weight too. But you will never know until you take a deep breath and a chance on His ways.