The Parable of the Rock Climber

She’s barely holding on.  She is losing feeling in her fingertips.  She became convinced a while back that starting this climb was a mistake in the first place, but by then she had no choice; it was continue upward or fall to certain death.  So she continued upward, on a journey she had already decided she could not finish. 

And then she stopped to take a rest.  It was never a long-term plan.  She just wanted to do anything but climb.  And for a short while it felt wonderful — just staying in place, not expecting anything out of herself.

But now she looks up at the climb ahead of her, and if anything it looks even more impossible than ever.  And even staying in place has become agonizing.  She knows she can’t hang on forever.  And she knows — she knows — she can’t go on.

And she starts to think, Maybe falling wouldn’t be so bad.

Maybe some trees would break her fall.  Maybe she would only break a dozen bones.  Maybe Superman will come to her rescue.  Sure, death is still the most likely scenario, by far.  But what choice does she have?

And it would feel so good to just let go.

Many Christians find themselves in this position in their marriages.  Some are battling addiction.  Some are trying to resist tendencies toward homosexuality.  We all have our walls to climb.  And sometimes we all get to the point where we wonder if we are going to survive the struggle with our faith intact.  The road Jesus set before us seems more impossible every day.  And we’re finding it impossible to even stay in place.  Doubt tugs at us from beneath, constantly and ever more powerfully.  And we start entertaining thoughts of just abandoning faith altogether.

Don’t.

Hang on, and start climbing again.  Move upward.  Don’t look down.  Don’t even think down.  Down does not exist.

Don’t make long-term decisions based on short-term feelings.  How you feel today, this week or this year have nothing to do with your walk with Christ.  Nothing.  So why should you abandon Jesus when you need Him the most (Philippians 4:6)?

Don’t underestimate yourself.  You have the ability to achieve, persevere and endure — more than you realize.  God’s commandments are not burdensome, says 1 John 5:3.  They seem that way, though, when we focus on what they require of us in the short term.  So don’t do that.  Think about heaven.  Think about eternity.

Know where your help is.  Leaning on the Lord is counterintuitive; we want visible help with tangible results, and Jesus does not promise that.  Likewise, leaning on brethren is counterintuitive; we would rather get “advice” from those who would tell us to trust in our feelings, not those who tell us our feelings are lying to us (Jeremiah 17:9).  The truth sometimes hurts, whether it’s delivered in love or not.  But it’s still the truth.  Accept it.

Everyone wants to have the feelings of flying with wings like eagles, a la Isaiah 40:31.  But no one feels that way all the time.  In the hours when you feel absolutely helpless, like joy and peace will never be yours, you will be tempted like never before to abandon the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James.

Don’t do it.  Hang on a bit longer.  Grow your faith.  Trust God to give you the strength you need to persevere, survive and thrive.