(Originally Posted April 30, 2010)
After I wrote my post yesterday on letting go, I remembered an experience I had over 10 years ago that has always reiterated the importance of trusting God with our lives.
(I apologize in advance to any “climbers” out there…the story below will not involve technical terms.)
When I was about 14, my family went on vacation to Colorado. One day, we decided to go rock climbing and repelling. Thinking I could conquer anything, I hiked up to the top of the mountain and I was ready to jump. Upon my ascent, there was this cute mountain boy to get me all set up. Once I was ready to begin my descent off the mountain, I became paralyzed with fear.
“I’m supposed to put my life into the hands of a rope and trust that I can make it down?? Who thinks up these sports?”
I was petrified. I think I sat up there for quite some time shaking, crying, and afraid. But I couldn’t just walk down the mountain…no way! Especially when my older sister had already made it down—I would not be defeated!
After what seemed like about 5 hours, but I’m sure was only 5 minutes, cute mountain boy said to me, “Okay Elizabeth, I know it can be really scary to trust, but I need you to start loosening your grip on the rope and let it slide down your fingers so that you can start going down. Once you start moving, be sure you don’t grip the rope too tightly, or you’ll lose control and crash right into the side of the mountain. It’s kind of like us and God—if the rope is your life, your need to make sure that you’re not holding on too tightly and trust that He can take care of you. It’s when you try to take control of your life that you usually wind up crashing.
Before actually thinking about the truth in cute mountain boy’s message, my first thought was, “Where did cute mountain boy learn how to talk about God?!? Clearly, he’s the one!” (No one told me we were with a Christian rock climbing organization…who knew those even existed?)
Apparently, all I needed was for cute mountain boy to start talking God and I was off! (Mainly to impress “my future husband” with my sense of adventure.) When I arrived safe and sound at the bottom of the mountain, the truth of his words were finally able to sink into my heart. Since then, that experience has often reminded me to loosen my grip on my life and trust that God can support me.
Two things can happen when we hold on too tightly:
1. You don’t move at all.
Before I started heading down, I was holding on so tightly, that it was impossible to move. It wasn’t until I slowly began peeling my fingers off of the rope that I began to make progress.
Often when we’re afraid to relinquish control and step out, we wind up stuck and miss out of the adventure God might be leading us to. If God is calling us to step out, we can’t be afraid to trust Him.
2. You crash.
At one point going down the mountain, I felt myself going too fast and was terrified. My natural reaction was to try to take back control and grip the rope, only to find my face quickly meeting the mountain. (Cute mountain boy was no liar.)
Even when we’re stepping out in faith, there are times when our fears or need for control can cause us to take our eyes off of God. In the Matthew 14, we see Jesus call Peter to step out and walk on water, but the minute he takes his eyes off of Jesus and sees the wind and the waves, Peter becomes afraid and starts to sink.
Thankfully, when we call to Him, our loving gracious God will not let us sink. Peter cries out for Jesus to save him and Matthew 14:31 says, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
It’s scary to let go, step out, and learn to trust. It’s definitely a learning process, and thankfully, God gives us a gracious learning curve.
Let’s rejoice together that the God we long to love is trustworthy, faithful, and full of support for our lives. Not only that, but He has plans for us!