Brian and I were informed that this was a moderately strenuous hike with only 850’ in elevation change. Since we’re healthy, and we got an early start, we were up for the challenge.
We were feeling pretty good about our decision until we turned a corner and saw this mammoth rock face:
A photo doesn’t do it justice. Once we got to the top of that rise – it just kept on going!
OK, so we’ll pace ourselves. How difficult can it be to hike up a rock, with no shade, in the dessert southwest, at the end of July? We’ll just drink our water (yes, we brought plenty!) and stop to breath (gasp for air!!) when we have to.
It was encouraging to pause and look back regularly, to see how far we had come (and to see people younger than us also pausing to rest).
What you might want to know is that I have a fear of falling. I’m OK with heights as long as there is no chance whatsoever of falling over the edge. As long as there is plenty of room between me and any cliff side, I am fine to keep going, and so did that rock face – up and up and up.
As we got higher, the path narrowed. But, since there was a gentle slope off to the side I was good to continue. Even around this narrow path.
I knew my kids wouldn’t believe I actually made it around that turn, so here’s the back side to prove I did it!
Oh yes, I’m gonna make it all the way to the top! And I’m gonna see a spectacular sight. Right? Wrong. Because when I made it around that last turn, this is what I saw coming up next.
After over a mile and half of uphill narrow paths on mostly solid rock with very little shade over the course of an hour, I came to a stop. I felt the strength drain out of my body from my head to my toes. Fear had me in its grip. Because I couldn’t see beyond the curve, I assumed it was a sheer vertical cliff. I couldn’t take the chance.
Did it matter that the path slanted in toward the mountain? That it was close to five feet wide? That there were people coming down who had clearly survived the walk around? No. Not for me.
Brian went around. Brian took the photo. I sat and pondered my fears and my limitations.
Every aspect of life has some limitations – some we impose upon ourselves and some that God places upon us. The best scenario is when we choose to apply the limitations that God outlines for us in the Bible.
God’s Word is pretty clear about some things and not so clear about others. In the areas where he gives us a very narrow path upon which to walk we need to lean into him and walk that path. We must not make up our own rules, or attempt to bend or ignore his.
Sometimes God gives us a very wide berth upon which to walk. Even if we stumble, we won’t fall away. On those paths, we need only stay under the protection of his shelter, under the safety of his wings by walking within the boundaries of his Word.
It is our choice to wander away from God’s shelter and protection. It is our decision to move closer to the edge. There is always an edge off of which we could fall.
When you lean into God, he promises you that He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; …The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand – Psalm 121:3, 5 NIV
God is our solid rock. He will not move. He will not change. And he is our protector. It is wise to walk close to God. It is not wise to wander away and walk close to the cliff. Falling off the cliff will hurt us; even though we may not understand that concept until we fall, the pain is inevitable.
It is our responsibility to learn and to recognize the paths he has prepared for us. When we see the gracious and merciful boundaries from God’s perspective we come to love them and grow in gratitude for them. We recognize our security lies within the protective arms of the Almighty.
Fear sometimes keeps us from following God, but it shouldn’t. We may not know what is around the corner but God does. If we should choose to wander beyond the boundaries God has set for us we cannot expect a good outcome. The bottom line is, there is safety when we lean into the Rock, our Lord. There is danger when we wander away from him.
We cannot fit God’s ways into our lives, we must fit our lives into God’s ways. When we do, we live in security. When we align our lives into his boundaries and walk on his paths, then he makes our feet like the feet of a deer, he causes us to stand on the heights, he provides a broad path for our feet so that our ankles do not give way (Psalm 18:33, 36).
What do you fear most: walking within the boundaries God has set for you? Or walking outside them? Why? That’s a good question to sit and ponder when you are afraid to move forward with God.
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