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This past weekend I went rock climbing. It made my pulse pound. When I came down from my first climb on the belay system, I couldn’t remember the last time I’ve felt so alive. Intense. Amazing. A little bit scary.
I should probably clarify here, it was an indoor rock climbing facility. I can only imagine what it must be like out in the wild. I’d never been rock climbing, but I’m kind of athletic, even though I’m clumsy. Can you be a clumsy athlete? Must be, cuz that’s the way I roll…er climb.
I’m more of an alternative athlete. Wake boarding and snow boarding are two of my favorite things to do. They remind me of flying without wings and without being off the ground, kind of like gliding along the surface of the ground. Give me a ball, a bat, or basket, and I’m two kinds of left feet and off center. You get points for trying though, right?
But rock climbing. That’s a different story, or multiple stories. The top of the wall was about 35 feet. There’s numerous routes to choose from at the bottom, but if you go the wrong way, it becomes fairly apparent about half way up when you can’t find a foot or hand hold. At the top, there’s a bell.
I wanted to ring the bell. If I was going to go up the wall, then that bell was going to chime.
Seems so often in my life, I focus on getting to the top, the ringing of the bell. I want to bypass part of the journey to get to the glory moment.
But God knows we need the journey. He knows He can teach us the most, when we’re a little bit scared and unsure, because it’s in those moments that we reach for Him. When we’re trembling, only the tips of our fingers and toes holding us against the wall, we lean on Him.
This doesn’t happen when our feet are flat on the ground. When we’re dangling in the air and have lost our hold, we learn to trust our Heavenly safety harness.
If we reach the top of the wall without paying attention to God, the ringing of the bell won’t matter once it’s peals are silent. The moment will pass and with it our sense of self-accomplishment. We’ll be looking on to the next wall to conquer and the bigger bell to ring.
But if we look to God while we’re climbing, draw close to Him on the way up, then the ringing of the bell will be a true accomplishment. We’ll savor the sound and we won’t feel let down once the adrenaline rush is over.
Have you ever done an extreme sport? Have you ever gotten caught up in the wrong motives?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.