“Just put your foot on the next staple, then move your hands down and lower yourself to the staple below. Keep doing that until you are at the bottom.”
“just” – does that word cause you to pause?
It should. One person’s “just” may be a significant challenge for someone else. As in “just tell him “no” – when you want your child to stop doing something that may be dangerous. Depending on the child, that may or may not be a simple solution.
Something that challenges me down to the very fiber of my being, may be “just climbing down a cliff” to someone else.
While in Israel, the main quality of the topography that Phil and I noticed were the rocks. (This is besides everything being very dry unless it is irrigated.) Rocks were everywhere. In the ancient sites and ruins we visited, the buildings were constructed of rocks and are therefore still visible. This makes perfect sense because rocks are in such abundance and people throughout history use what is available to construct dwellings.
After seeing rocks everywhere, it should have come as no surprise that our group would be asked to descend a rock formation.
Yet, Elaine and I WERE surprised!
We had hiked up a steep slope through brown grass that was sprinkled with flowers, startling in their beauty because everything around was so brown. The end of our climb was a spectacular panoramic view. This mountain was called Mt. Precipice.
I looked up the word precipice – it means – a very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one. The name was so appropriate and should have been a clue of what was to come.
After our guide James pointed out the significance of the surrounding landscape and what Jesus would have seen during his time, we saw where we would be hiking next, even where we would be spending the night. (FAR in the distance!)
James then said, “We are just going to descend this cliff. It is a bit tricky, but we will help each other.”
The path James led us to was straight down!
You can see from the photo that I am not exaggerating. We were told that morning before we left that there were some “rocky bits” and “one strenuous part.” We had been on rocky bits the whole trail. I should have know that when James said “strenuous” it really would be. There were large iron staples embedded in the rock face to hold on to and step on as one climbed down.
I watched as the others started descending first. I was so proud of Elaine! What a trooper! She went down from hand/foot hold to hand/foot hold, step by step.
As I watched Elaine descend, I knew I could as well. She went before me, making sure each of her steps was on sure footing.
Elaine’s example gave me courage and encouragement to make the descent myself. My biggest concern was making sure my foot was securely on a staple before I put my weight on it and went down to the next staple. I wasn’t sure I could see the next staple.
Phil went before me and when I needed it, he guided my foot to the next staple. Once I felt the staple under my foot – sure footing – I was fine.
Needless to say, we all made it down in one piece.
I have thought since then that this is a picture of our walk with God and how important the Body of Christ is. In life we come to those times where we are on a precipice, we are not sure where to go, or how to face what we see ahead. It may seem that there is NO WAY forward. Yet if we look around, God often provides someone who is going through something similar – right before us – and that person can support and guide us along the way.
Seeing Elaine descend successfully, then having Phil guide my feet, prevented me from being paralyzed by fear or being left behind on the mountain.
In Psalm 37:23-24 it says –
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
In Psalm 40, David encourages me –
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
We can encourage one another as we walk with God, encourage each other to keep out feet on the Rock, our sure footing.