When I first met my now husband Bob, he was really starting to get into rock climbing. He would climb with his best buddy and his two sons. I remember vividly the first time they took me climbing. It was pretty exciting stuff for me, a city girl who had recently moved from Chicago to Northern California. I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but first let me first explain the method and objective of climbing.
The method they would use for climbing was called “top roping.” It is the safest method of climbing. It works by setting an anchor in the cleft of a rock at or near the summit. Then a rope is threaded through the anchor and is attached to the climber who is wearing a special climbing harness. The other end of the rope is attached to another person wearing a harness, this person is called the belayer. (The word belay means to secure of make fast.) It is the belayer’s job to keep the rope taut while the climber is making his assent. The belayer is also responsible to keep the climber safe in case of a fall.
The whole objective in rock climbing is to vertically climb up the face of a rock formation in hopes of reaching the summit or some other designated stopping point through a pre-defined route without falling. You would have to strategically pick a route and then climb looking for hand and foot placement as you make your assent.
Thinking back on my first climb, it was exciting and scary at the same time. To begin with, there is a little bit of climbing lingo you have to learn. You begin by saying the word . . .Belay and the belayer then replies with . . Belay On, meaning he has you secured. Secondly you announce that you are ready to begin climbing by saying . . . Climbing. The belayer responds by saying . . . Climb On. Sometimes moves up the rock would be easy, other times very challenging. You would have to carefully consider then next best move before making it. You need to look for crevasses or hand holds that would be big enough or secure enough to make the next move. Sometimes there would be points at which you would get stuck because there were hardly any possible hand holds.
I remember the first time I lost my grip and fell backwards, it was pretty scary. But once I did fall, I realized that I was safely secured by the belayer below. Climbing can be a very physical and mentally straining sport. You needed upper body strength to pull yourself up and mental strength to determine the best possible route. Sometimes I would get so tired I would tell the belayer below and then let go and just fall back knowing I was secured. That would bring great relief. The times when I’ve made it to the top, there was an incredible sense of accomplishment. Then the fun part would be getting to repel back down the rock by leaning back in your harness and bouncing against the rock while the belayer slowly lets of tension on the rope as you descend.
Thinking back on my “rock climbing” adventures, it reminds me of some parallels in my walk with the Lord. As I look to God in my daily life, he helps guide me on the best possible route. Psalm 32:8 says. . .I will instruct you and teach you in the say you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Sometimes when I’ve taken my eyes off God and choose my own route, that route most times that leads to my fall. But as long as I return to God, he in his loving grace and mercy allows me once again to begin my climb. 1 John 1:9 says . . . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Other times I’ve come to a point where I see no possible “next move.” Proverbs 3:5 says. . .Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to thy own understanding, in all you ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. This is where God wants me to trust Him and know that whatever happens, He’s got me, he is my belayer, my sustainer. Sometimes it’s been through some of my toughest trials and falls that I’ve learned to trust God the most. And as I‘ve learned more and more about God’s true nature, it’s helped me to grow and know that God wants me to trust him in EVERY area of my life. We cannot pick and choose to trust God here and there or surrender this or that to him. He wants ALL of us and our spiritual growth depends on our surrendering and our obedience to Him.
Thank you father God for your finished work on the cross. Thank you that in that transaction you have secured me. Thank you that I can put full confidence in You. Thank you that as I look to you, that you guide my path and make my footing sure. Help me to die to self so I can be more like you. I thank you for the full assurance of my future home with you in your kingdom. To you be the glory forever and ever! AMEN