I am just a big kid. I know, shocker, right? It sometimes gets me in trouble. And it sometimes irritates my lovely bride. But it doesn’t stop me from being a big kid! It’s too much fun!
Which explains why last year, when the staff here at BNC was on a retreat, that I climbed a rock wall. I mean, who can pass that up, right?!?! Definitely not this guy! Come on! There’s a wall. It has things on it to climb and hold on to. I can see how high I can go! What sort of kids pastor would NOT jump up and down, giddy with excitement and embarrass his bride by acting like…a kid?!?!
I’m glad you agree with me!
So here we are, I’m strapped in and ready to climb. And do I ever climb. I think I made it (seriously) in like record time up the wall, jumping, scaling, pulling myself up and all the while exploding inside with joy and excitement! I was giddy!
Until I got to the top.
I proudly rang the bell at the top of the wall and looked down with pride and a smile! Now, I have done this sort of thing a time or two before and typically you have a person on belay at the bottom. This person’s job is to hold you up by a series of ropes that they are also harnessed into. Should the climber fall, the person on belay is to support the climber by keeping tension on the rope. The person on belay keeps the climber safe from falling.
There was no person on belay. Just the staff. Just my wife. Nobody on belay.
There reaches a point in a man’s life when he’s not too proud to admit when he messes himself. I can say that I just about did in that moment. As I looked around for some sort of answer, I heard a yell from below…”Use the automatic belayer. It’ll hold you up!”
“What?!?! That’s silly!”, I replied. “There’s no such thing.”
“Just lean into the rope and repel down! Trust that it will hold you up!”
At this point I’m thinking that guy is a six pack of coke without the little plastic thingy…he’s missing something.
I’m not gonna trust this without testing it first! I mean who just blindly trusts without testing, right? So with one hand wrapped around a hold, I take my other hand and pull on the rope. No tension. So I pull harder, pulling out about 2 feet of rope. Still…no tension. This is crazy. In my head I’m saying no way I’m trusting this, I’ll make it down on my own. I’ll just climb down. And that’s what I started to do until I heard the same phrase from below.
“Trust that it will hold you up!”
Now when you are on a church staff retreat and you hear that from below, and you all are serving God like good little Nazarenes should, there is sort of this thing that is present. We all are supposed to trust God, right? I don’t want to look like a Doubting Thomas up here? I got them faith skills! I can’t NOT trust here. There isn’t really an option. Sure I can climb down. But…
So I start to lean into the rope (only a little bit) and let go (only a little bit) and I start to slide down the wall (which REALLY DOESN”T FEEL GOOD!) I didn’t slide long before I grabbed a hold of another hand hold and cleaved myself to it! It was, at this point in time, my only friend! I hear again from below.
“Trust that it will hold you up!”
Again, I attempted the same maneuver – letting go and trusting only a little bit. And again, it didn’t feel real good! As my life flashed before my eyes (being a little dramatic) and I prayed a little, I realized that this was a lesson for me.
I need to trust God.
Trust toward God, for me, looked just like this climbing wall. I would let go a little. Trust a little. And it never felt real good. It was sort of this inward turmoil inside. Circumstances can pull us away from trust as we take matters into our own hands and think we have to protect ourselves, never giving a though to the fact that the circumstances themselves passed through God’s hands before they came to us.
David has a similar situation in 1 Samuel 21 and 22. The short version is David lied and then acted like a madman to protect himself from Saul. Some will argue that David was doing what was needed so that he was safe. An alternative theory (and one that sounds more plausible) is that David struggled with trust. What eventually ends up happening as a result of David’s dishonesty is the needless death of Ahimelech and many others. What he thought was just a little untruth that wouldn’t hurt anyone actually hurt many.
And it was all motivated by a lack of trust in the God that promised David that he would be Israel’s next king.
So there I am, hanging on with both hands, refusing to let go and trust the rope. And this story goes through my head. I don’t want to be the kind of servant that trusts God with my Salvation, but yet feels the need to control other circumstances in my life. Those are not congruent at all. One speaks trust. The other, distrust.
So I let go and completely leaned into the rope. And wonder of wonders I didn’t fall to my demise! I may or may not not have slightly soiled my britches, but I did repel safely down the wall to my awaiting wife and friends below.
I like the fact that David struggled. It’s encouraging to me. Really! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that has struggled. I mean if King David (who was anointed by Samuel) maybe it’s ok that I do as well! I don’t want to make a habit of it! Life is much better lived leaning into God and trusting in Him than trusting in myself alone. But there will be times that I get it mixed up and struggle. I will be the first to openly state that I am strong in faith but in the next breath revert to my own resources and trust in myself when it feels like the bottom is dropping out. How ridiculous is that?!?
My hope is that they grew fewer and far between.
It’s one thing to write, read, and talk about trust. But it needs application. Others around you and I need to see it in application in our lives! Faith foster faith! I need to see it in application! It encourages, builds up, and strengthens when I see someone put unwavering trust in God, so confident in His provision!
Lean into that rope and discover that it’ll hold you up!