Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Going over the cliff
Twenty plus years ago, after working for Camp Collins in Oregon for 4 summers, I sprouted wings and headed to North Carolina for my 5th summer camp job. This is when I learned that you can do something in one setting, get comfy and think you know what you are doing only to find out that when you change the setting, you don't know quite as much as you thought you did. Camp work in NC was very little like my experience with camping in Oregon, but it had beauty all its own. I grew up a lot that summer, and swallowed a good dose of humility which was mighty good for my soul.
My camp director, Jack (bless you Jack if you read this!) took the staff rock climbing during the training week. We actually went to the top of a cliff, belayed down and climbed back up. Being terrified of going over the side of a cliff, I was the very last staff member to do this. I cried. I tried every tactic I could to get out of this for my fears had the upper hand at the time. Jack just looked me straight in the eye and said I was either going to do this, or I was going to get on a plane and go home. All of a sudden, the fear of failure was bigger than my fear of going over the cliff and over it I went.
Jack is retired now, but remains a mighty good and godly man. I have learned a lot from him. He instructed us that day at the top of the cliff that going over the side of it with nothing but a rope for security is like living the Christian life. Christ often leads us to do things that go against our natural inclinations and we follow Him, trusting that He, better than any rope, will hold us. I was ruled by fear that day, not trust, but I really think that was a turning point for me.
The rope held, and it became a picture of God's sufficient grace that has lead me to trust Him day by day. The rope held the next time too, by the way, when I went back voluntarily to climb. You see, I began to see that forsaking fear and putting on trust in the Trustworthy can lead you to experience some pretty exciting things in life. The Trusted also gets the glory of being tested and proven to be worthy of the trust...you might say that was another important "lesson of the rope" for me. I was far more interested in my safety, comfort and pride than I was in giving the rope glory. And when you're talking ropes, it isn't that big of deal (who really cares whether a rope gets glory?), but when you transfer the lesson to life in relationship to God, it is something we all should take to heart. God knew I needed North Carolina and Jack, and the rest of the wonderful people there who helped me learn that summer to LIVE outside of my comfort zone and to follow Jesus where He leads, even when it seems scary. He is indeed better than any rope, and as we cling to Him in faith, He is glorified while we have the thrills of going over the sides of cliffs. I, for one, do not want to go back to Egypt.