I have two big fears. One of them is heights. (I know, super inconvenient for someone who spends all summer climbing mountains). I hate being at the top of tall things, I stay far away from edges, and I hate rock climbing. Rock climbing is the worst- it absolutely terrifies me. It’s nothing that I would ever choose to do. In fact, there are lots of things that I would rather do- run through I-35 Friday at 5pm, give birth to twins, eat a mouthful of cinnamon, sock wrestle a tiger…kidding. Kind of. I just really hate it.
As a backpacking guide at Wilderness Ranch, we must be proficient in rock climbing. I have to know how to set up a belay, tie knots strong enough to hold a semi truck, and stay holding onto the end of that rope, belaying for three hours, as kids climb up a terrifyingly tall cliff. And worst of all, you guessed it- I have to know how to climb, also. I dread it.
With a lot of scary things, it’s the moment before that’s the most nerve-racking. Cliff jumping- the moment right before you launch yourself into the air. Roller coasters- it’s the moment after they lock those bars in place right in front of you, just before that car goes from 0 to 120 mph. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it. With a lot of things, it’s the anticipation. Not with rock climbing. Starting is fine. Easy, really. The hard part is when you get half way up, and you realize you’re stuck. You don’t know where to go. You’re dangling from a terrifying height, and you can’t climb back down.
During every climb, I get to a place where I don’t know how to go up. I’m harnessed into the belay system, I started climbing, but now I’m face to face with the actual rock, my muscles are shaking, I don’t know where to put my foot, and I panic.
I just sit (stand? hang?) there, face to face with the rock, unable to move. Frozen in fear. I cling to the rock, shaking, because I’m not yet convinced that the rope is going to hold me when I let go. I don’t trust the rope or my belayer enough to climb up. I don’t trust my own muscles enough to reach for that next ledge. And so I stay there, clinging to the rock, crying. Sobbing. I just want to go back down.
But there’s no going down. No one is letting the rope back down- I couldn’t get to the bottom if I wanted to. The only place to go is up. No matter how long it takes me to come to that realization, it’s still the only option. I have to keep moving. I have to trust that rope, to let go of that rock with one hand and reach for something higher.
I calm down. I reach my fingers up, grasping to loose rock, finding a grip, and full of terror, I reach my foot up, pressing my entire weight into that tiny foothold.
It doesn’t hold.
Rock fragments tumble down beneath me. My feet fall.
I lose my grip, and my white knuckled fingers spin out of reach from the rock. I lose control. But I don’t fall more than a couple inches. I never do. I don’t plummet to my death like I’m always convinced I will- I remain there, spinning slightly, but still on that rope, still right next to that cliff.
Because the rope holds.
And when I stop spinning, when my hands and feet can grasp onto that cliff again, my option is still the same. Up.
Stepping out and starting a blog, sharing my writing with the world, feels a lot like that. I’m clinging to the side of a cliff, knowing that the only place to go is up. Knowing that I have to take that next step, I have to take a risk, I have to trust that the rope will hold.
Jesus has called me here, called me to share my words, share my story, and ultimately, share HIS gospel. And it’s terrifying. Rejection, embarrassment, risk of plummeting to my death- all of the fears swirling around through my head, yelling at me to take a step back. But it is He who has called me here, and He is the one standing at the end of that rope, calling me up, calling me to take that next step, calling me to trust. I can only cling to comfort and safety and control for so long. Because there’s no going back down. Jesus has made up His mind, has called me to something greater, and I’m ready to trust. Ready to see if that rope he has will hold.
And I believe that it will. Every. Single. Time.
So this is my risk. This is my stepping out. I believe that Jesus will hold me, sustain me, and call me higher. I might slip. I might lose my footing. But the rope will hold. Jesus will hold.
One of my favorite lines from the Chronicles of Narnia is in the last book, The Last Battle. (Have you read it? It’s great.) Aslan calls the children and the Narnians, “further up and further in.”
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” – CS Lewis, The Last Battle
That’s what we’re doing here- trusting Jesus, climbing up, racing through the fields of further up and further in. There’s more to see than what’s in front of us, there’s more to Jesus than what we know, there’s more to ourselves than we’re willing to believe. I want to chase that, the land I have been looking for all my life. Further up and further in.
My hope and prayer for this blog is that you would encounter Jesus in a new way. That these words would not be my own, but they would be His, and His glory would be proclaimed. I pray that you would see Him in your own lives the way that I have seen Him in mine.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I don’t know what’s ahead, what’s at the top of that ledge, but Jesus does. Follow Him with me- the adventure begins today. Further up and further in.
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.” -Hillsong United, Oceans