Our family used to rock-climb. Yeah, I know, this probably doesn’t fit the image you have of me. I’ll bet you’re remembering that post I wrote a while back about my fear of heights which translated into a fear of flying. But you should also remember that I refuse to let this fear hinder me. (And my fear of manmade things, like planes, is much greater than my fear of God made things, like rocks.) Besides, life is too short. Christ died to set me free. Why would I allow myself to remain in self-imposed bondage?
As I read my Bible this morning, I was reminded of a weekend we spent at a rock climbing ranch in Arkansas. It was one of those places designated for climbers, with camp sites tucked amidst mountainous boulders and well-trodden trails leading to numerous rock walls. The whole event is quite comical looking back. It had been my idea to go. In fact, the whole rock-climbing deal had been my idea. Largely because I felt God nudging me to do it. He saw a weakness in me—fear—and He wanted to slice it out. But as we readied for our climb, beef jerky, water bottles and climbing gear shoved in our packs, I wanted to turn around and head home. Fast. But I didn’t. I offered up a few, “God, don’t leave me hanging,” (literally) prayers and followed my husband up the mountain. The whole way I’m doing my, replace the lies with truth, mantra. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear.” “Do not let yourself be burdened by the yoke of slavery.” “For I have not been given the spirit of fear.”
You get the idea.
But twenty minutes later as I stood strapped into my harnesses ready to scale this towering rock wall, all my recitations fell flat as my best intentions collided with “reality”. Did I really trust God to hold me up? Was my husband (who was my belayer) as strong as I thought he was? Would the rope hold if I happened to slip?
Needless to say, I was terrified. My stomach twisted in knots and my hands went slick with sweat. Not a good thing when you’re about to climb.
Until I re-routed my thoughts. My rope was stronger. And it was attached to my anchor—my husband. Ultimately, it was my trust in him that allowed me to take that first step, and then the next, and the next, until I reached the top.
A while later, it was my daughter’s turn. She started out strong enough, but as the climb grew more difficult, she began to have trouble reaching those good holds. My husband noticed this as well and leaned back, working the rope like a pulley, lifting her up inch by inch, until she too made it to the top.
When I read through the New Testament, I’m awed by the tremendous amount of divine power displayed in believers. And they faced a lot more than a steep climb. They faced death. But they didn’t cower. Why? Because they had witnessed the miraculous—Christ rising from the dead. And sometimes, when we read about their courage and single-minded focus, it can be easy to rationalize it away. They had an extra dose of the Holy Spirit, right? But our God never changes. The same power that worked through them lives inside of us.
I love those verses that talk about God’s insurmountable power and I often have Chris Tomlin’s Our God is Greater on instant replay. But then, once the song is done, I go back to my nice safe little life, taking on only enough tasks to keep my boat afloat, but certainly not enough to send it into the waves. Basically, I take on those things that can be accomplished in my strength, keeping God and His promises tucked in my pocket for that occasional pep-talk. Nothing more.
It’s like I’ve built this natural safety net into my day. I’ve got to schedule in time for the occasional writer’s block, right? As doors open, I quickly grab my binoculars so I can see as far down that hallway as possible. And then I’ll walk tentatively, like a timid child, eyes darting all around waiting for that first hint of danger, ready to dash back into my safe, little predictable world.
Perhaps its a fear of failure that keeps me bound. And yet, Christ died to set me free. He’s given me everything I need to live a victorious life–a glorious life, a fully surrendered life marked by the ever-working power of the Holy Spirit.
For children set free by the grace of God, we sure live in angst. Fretting, stressing, over-analyzing, clinging to the safe and familiar. We say we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, but we live as if it’s all up to us.
I love this video created by Francis Chan:
I’ve been cemented to my balance beam for way too long. It’s time I lifted my head, centered my gaze on Christ and the power that He has given to me.
What about you? Are you giving yourself an excuse not to believe in God? Excuses like, “I can’t do that!” or “I’m too young.” Or, “I’m too old, too shy,” whatever. Excuses that translate as lack of faith.
Step out of that boat. Yeah, I know, there’s a good chance you’ll sink–if you rely on your own strength. But God never intended you to go it alone. He wants you in a place of weakness because that is when He is most glorified. He wants you in a place of dependence because that is when you will be the most pliable.
I love this passage in Ephesians 1:17-21: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”