If you’ve known me for longer than 5 minutes, you know that I have the coordination of a newborn fawn. There really doesn’t need to be anything on the ground for me to trip over; so long as there’s air around I’ll get the job done on my own. For some reason, this has never inhibited my desire to do things which are clearly outside of my realm of giftedness. Things like biking (fell down a hill), skiing (fell down multiple snow-covered hills), rollerblading (fell down a freshly-graveled hill), sledding (knocked unconscious in my backyard after…you guessed it!…falling down an icy hill), running on treadmills (that stop button doesn’t work when you’ve already begun to fly through the air), and the like. You name it, I’ve earned a scrape or two from partaking in it.
It’s possible that no one know this fact better than my friend Katie, who had the unfortunate fate of winding up in the same gym class as me nearly every year of high school. She’s borne witness to more of my uncoordinated moments than anyone else. Additionally, since we lived in the same neighborhood and went for walks together in the woods nearby, she knew the inherent struggles I encountered with putting one foot in front of the other. She’d always be quick to point out trouble areas before I could find them on my own: patches of mud, a root sticking out of the ground, slippery rocks, a long expanse of flat ground with no impending dangers whatsoever…no matter the obstacle, I always knew she had my back. Literally.
Last Tuesday Katie and I decided to do something new together: indoor rock climbing. (Kudos to Katie for actually going along with this plan, knowing that there was only one way for this to end and that way had a color scheme of black and blue.) The instructors taught us how to use the belay (ropes) system, in which one person acts as the anchor while the other person climbs. The anchor makes sure there’s no slack in the line and safely lowers the climber back down to solid ground after she’s finished climbing. We tested out our new skills on an easier wall with supervision before being given the go-ahead to venture off on our own and climb wherever we wanted.
Katie went first, because that seemed like the safer plan. She did great
and probably would have done better if I spent less time shouting encouraging phrases and more time, you know, pulling back the slack and keeping her in the air. We switched spots when she came down and…get this!…I made it to the top without an ounce of major or minor trauma. It was awesome.
We continued to switch back and forth as climber and anchor as we moved throughout the facility. And every time I went up, I had no qualms about falling – so much so that I just went for it and tried to reach the holds I didn’t think I could reach because I wasn’t the least bit afraid. For one, I’ve taken my fair share of spills so the process has lost it’s fear factor. Plus, it’s not like I was plummeting to my death off of a real mountain. But mostly, I was so confident in Katie as the anchor. I knew beyond a doubt that she’d catch me when I inevitably missed a step or lost my balance or reached too far. All of those things happened. And she caught me every time.
It made me think more about not holding back. I had no reason to hold back while climbing; I knew that I was in good hands. So why don’t I live that way in every day life when I know that I’m in God’s hands?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I worry so often that I’m going to mess up my life – usually in the form of career/geographic/general direction choice – as if there’s a decision I could make that would be too much for God to redeem me from. That’s as silly as thinking that I could have slipped too far for Katie to catch me on Tuesday. She kept the line tight and had a brake on the belay. No matter what I did up there, I wasn’t going to free fall to the ground. I had a great anchor.
I think it’s the same with God. No matter what I do in my endeavor to live a life that’s pleasing to Him – whether I miss a step or lose my balance or reach too far – His sovereignty is bigger than anything I could do to falter. I shouldn’t be afraid to do anything because I know that His love is so much greater than anything I could do to “mess up” this life He’s given me.
1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love, but that perfect love casts out fear. I believe that is true. And I also believe that when I move past merely believing it’s true and start to live like it’s true, to sincerely live without fear on a daily basis, my life and my relationship with Christ with change dramatically.
What do you guys think? How do you live this out?