Loosening Our Grip

I’m brand new to this whole indoor rock climbing thing.

“Hello, 1996, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Rachel and I’ve been living in a cave for the last 15 years. And thank you, climbing wall for being made of plastic so I can still enjoy you in this present day.”

Last night I became officially belay-certified, which means I can now be the spotter or anchor for a climber. It also means that I’m responsible if you go plummeting to your death while you’re tethered to the other side of my rope. Becoming certified was the easy part, actually belaying a real human being was the challenge. With each advance of the climber on the wall, you must pull down on your end of the rope, gather the slack and then pull the rope down on the brake (the metal teeth on one side of the ATC).

I’m a lightweight. I’ve got hollow bird bones, this makes me question if my weight will actually counter-balance another’s. But last night, it did. However, here’s the tricky part: once the climber has given indication that he/she is coming down. There’s got to be a level of faith. Yes, on their’s of course because they are dangling in mid-air, but on yours as well. As the belayer, you have got to start loosening your grip in order for you to give them enough rope to get down. As I said, it’s tricky because you would rather cut off your right arm than let them fall, but if you, as the belayer, holds on for dear life, YOU begin getting picked up, your harness creeps into places of utmost discomfort and there is no progress. So you have no choice, relinquish your hold or start feeding the line through, still there is caution, but now there is also progress.

This reminds me of a sermon series I’ve been listening to on I John by Rob Bell & Co. delivered earlier this summer. One of the speakers is discussing I John 2: 15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the father is not in him(15)…The world and it’s desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever(17).” This is what we need to do, what we must do with our grip on the things of this world. The speaker makes the point that God created the things of this world to be enjoyed by man: relationships, food, fellowship, etc. but if we are not abiding, if we are not grasping the hand of God, this world, these things that are meant to be enjoyed can become terrifying. He says that abiding in Jesus makes this world “less sticky” and that this isn’t a simple, snap decision, abiding is a habit. Once we begin losing certain things in this world it won’t always effect us the way it once did. We must attach ourselves to the Father’s hand. Jesus told us that we can bind ourselves to those things that will never fail, never pass away, that if we learn to attach to and love those things, then we will not leave this earth empty handed.

That abiding means letting go just a little at a time.

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