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The most courageous decision: coming to grips with what you believe (part 2)

Another decision you must make moment by moment that will mark your life as a man is this: Will you center your life (your decisions, values, and priorities) on your relationship with God and the truth of God’s Word?

I received a good lesson on this truth years ago when I went on a rock climbing trip with several colleagues. Our supervisor thought this adventure would build leadership qualities and teamwork skills in all of us. I was hoping I could learn leadership some other way because I hate heights. But no such luck. I wound up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains among the rockdomed peaks, along with several sadists called “trainers,” and eleven other guys foolish enough to be “trainees.”

We spent the first day learning basic climbing techniques, and the next morning I was told we were going to rappel off the top of a cliff. I said, “Oh, really, where is it?” They said, “Right up there.” We were standing on the floor of a valley, and I looked up fifteen hundred feet to a dome directly overhead. How are we getting up there? I wanted to know.

Well, the climb went better than I expected, and I loved the view from the top. But then I realized that getting down would be a bit more troublesome.

Rappelling is not that complicated. You back up to the edge of the cliff to the point where you can no longer stand on your feet; then you push off and let the rope hold you. Several times I inspected the area where the rope was securely fastened to bolts sunk into the rock. There were four of those bolts, and I wanted to know, What were the bolts made of? How far did they go into the rock? How long had they been there, and above all, would they hold me?

My trainers assured me they had never lost anyone before. Besides, some guys a lot bigger and heavier than me had rappelled off this precipice with no problem. In fact, one guy had gone off in a wheelchair.

All these words did little to slow down the vibration of my knocking knees, but finally I began backing off the cliff. When I came to the point where I was totally horizontal, I looked back over my shoulder (something you’re not supposed to do), and everything came clearly into focus. At that point the phrase “do or die” never seemed more relevant. I decided I had to go for it and pushed off.

And the rope held.

Did I become an enthusiastic rock climber after this? No, I haven’t done it since! But I did learn a lot about faith that day. I learned that you have to believe the rope will hold you. You have to lean against and trust yourself to the rope. And I learned that walking with God, and making Christ your Lord, is just like rappelling down a cliff. You lean back and push off with the knowledge that God is your rope. He is worthy of your trust every moment of every day.  These are the things I believe.

You see, I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts, when suddenly I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe.  And, you will need to come to grips with what you believe.  I have since moved from, in the words of Tom Skinner, the “agony of questions that I cannot answer to the reality of answers that I cannot escape,  and it’s a great relief!” It really has been a relief since I placed my trust in Jesus Christ in the summer of 1968. And it can be for you, too.

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