Monday, July 18, 2011


It was a Wednesday in June. My two sons, Josh and Andrew, and I went to Rainbow Falls and jumped. It was a thrill shared with my sons I would not have missed for the world. It was also an experience that in many ways reminded me of a believer’s journey of faith.

We were vacationing in the mountains in Sapphire, NC. We drove to Gorges State Park and hiked to the falls. At the trailhead, the sign read, “strenuous hike”, and so it was, a three mile round trip strenuous hike up and down, over roots and rocks. Once we got to the falls our adventure became more challenging, dangerous, fun, and thrilling. Just getting down to the river from the trail was a steep slippery journey. Once at the bottom it was a matter of calculated stepping and hopping from boulder to boulder to get to where we could get in the water. The rocky ledge from which we wanted to jump was on the other side of the river. We left our shoes and shirts on a rock and then slowly entered the cold water. The huge rocks beneath the water were so slick we couldn’t stand on them, and we had to crawl over them into deeper water where we could swim.

Once across the river the challenge was climbing up to the ledge. It was not a direct approach. Just pulling ourselves out of the water, trying to get a grip on the rocks was difficult in itself. Once out of the water we began the steep climb up the wooded side next to the huge rock wall from which we would jump.

It was a climb that consisted of fingers gripping small indentions in the rocks, hands holding on to roots, and feet placed strategically for a foothold. It took total concentration. Pulling up, pushing off, using all of our strength, calculating every move, we made it to the place just above and to the side of the ledge.

From there we had to climb down fifteen feet of rock wall holding to the roots that draped over the rock. At this point one slip of the foot, one missed grip of a root could easily mean a fall to our death. As I watched both my sons make the tedious climb down that rock wall, I silently prayed intensely for each of them. Once we got over to the ledge we made our way to the wider part where we could at least take a couple of steps to jump.

Standing on the ledge and looking out and around, the world seemed huge. The power and the noise of the massive falls to the left, the height of the surrounding mountains, the sky with passing clouds and the blue with no ceiling, the huge rocks scattered in the water in no certain pattern as if God had tossed a bucket of boulders into the river, and the water that had pooled below us from the falls – all gave me a sense of wonder, smallness, and mortality.

As each of us stood on the ledge and looked down we felt apprehension… well, I’ll go ahead and say it… we felt fear. It was about thirty feet from the ledge to the river below. We also knew we had to jump out and away from the ledge because the bottom of the rock wall sloped outward under the water. We needed to clear it as we jumped.

The longer we stood on the ledge and thought about jumping the more nervous we became. Not that any of us thought that it would be easier to just walk out onto the ledge and jump. A few moments were necessary to collect one’s thoughts, make some calculations, and then commit to the jump.

And then the moment comes to choose to stop thinking and to take your gathered thoughts and with all your strength spring forward, outward, and off the edge of the ledge, leaving the familiar to enter what you only know from a distance, and to splash into the cool water, exhilarated that you made it.

The Bible says, Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12b).

The lifelong journey of faith for the believer in Christ is much like a strenuous hike and a climb of spiritual maturity. It’s not easy to follow Jesus. We must depend on His strength and wisdom. Even if we slip, we’re still His, for His grace is sufficient and His salvation is sure. One day we’ll stand on the ledge and we’ll make our last jump, leaving the familiar that was not so comforting after all, and enter into that which we’ve known from a distance and have longed for all our lives – our home in Heaven. What an exhilarating moment that will be!

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? … Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. … He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. … Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? … Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:12-31).

1 comment:

  1. Your description of this journey was so inspiring beginning with the love you have for your sons, and the way you chose to share God's word through this challenge. This message is so meaningful to me as I take my daughter's hand and we begin our climb toward the unknown results, medical and financial challenges as she waits for her pancreas transplant. So far on our journey we have made it to the area where we can remove our shoes (met the clinical need for the transplant). We have made it across the waters of understanding through many hours of consultations and education with the hospital team. The next rocky steps we have taken clinging to our roots of faith is to provide the blood (the PRA antigen level which needs to be low). This step will determine if God has chosen for us to continue this journey. If it is His will...we will begin our last precarious climb to the "Ledge" (creating a financial plan that is required to cover the expensive anti-rejection medication.) As we prepare for our leap of faith from this ledge (to undergo the transplant) I'm grateful that God has given us the strength to make it to this sacred place. A place where hearts, spirits, souls, and faith come together. We have nothing to fear for God will soar with us like the eagles and no matter where we land I will always be grateful that God provided us with an opportunity to challenge our faith and lean on his strength, promises and love. What I have gained most from this message is that in each journey there will be challenges to reach the "Ledge," but it's in the choices we make along the way that determine if we succeed. Whether or not our goal is to take a leap of faith and jump or to admire the beauty of God's creation it will always be an opportunity to be grateful and to thank God for all that is...and all that is to come.