Once one declares oneself separate from the world, all the world turns against him.
- Jim Shempert
I am pretty dull. At most restaurants I order the same thing that I did previously. I watch the same TV shows. I usually do everything along the same time schedule. My wife, not so much. In some ways, our personalities are as opposite as they can be. I am very consistent, she is very spontaneous. Her spontaneity, though, is one of the things that I love most about her. She pulls me out of my ruts, and into places that I would have never gone without her. Like, zip lining through a limestone cave for instance.
My wife and I traveled recently to Kentucky for an anniversary getaway. One of our stops was to an attraction called the Louisville Mega Cavern. (Author’s note, if you are there, I highly recommend it.) The cave is actually a manmade limestone mine that has been setup for zip-lining. Each participant is given a helmet with a small light attached to the top, just enough to light the path in front of your feet. The tour through the cave takes about two hours, with the lines getting longer and faster as you get closer to the end. In the cave, there is very little light. The darkness is so thick, that you can almost feel it.
I’m big on being in control. In the face of my Savior, I think that is my biggest sin. The need for being in control. The need for being in charge. It is the root sin of man, the need to be God. All sin stems from the authoritative clash of God vs. Man. All throughout the Old Testament man rebels against God, man repents, and God restores, then man returns again to God. Then they start the process all over again.
To zip line is to lose complete control. I’m a big guy. I’m 6’4” and 260 on a good day. This cable and harness that I am strapped to is the only thing that separates me from falling 100 or so feet to my death. To attach myself to a steel cable and fly out into the darkness over caverns that I can’t see the bottom to, is to lose complete control. It is my turn to fly out into the darkness. The guide is strapping me in, and I get up on the landing and can see the full darkness below me. He attaches my cable to the line and says, “Don’t worry, just let go.”
“Just let go?” I have a mortgage, car payments, a stack of medical bills taller than the guide is, a wife and a child that depend on my paycheck to eat and you want me to trust you to fall into a cavern that I can’t see?
This too is the way it is with Christ. Life for the Christian is by no means a picnic. Once one declares oneself separate from the world, all the world turns against him. Satan endeavors to make him reject his choice to follow Christ. At times, all the world seems arrayed against the faithful.
The only answer for the Christian is faith. Simple? Maybe for the non-believer. The Christian life is not a popular or easy road to walk. Paul said it this way: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (2nd Corinthians 5:6-9.)”
Even better, Jesus said it this way: “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29.)’” This world demands tangible proof of anything related to Jesus. The world despises the message of Jesus, not because of the message, but because they are not in charge. The world desires control. Jesus desires your acknowledgment of His love for you, and then your obedience to Him.
In Matthew 14, Jesus appears to the disciples in the middle of a storm on the water. He calls to Peter to come to Him. Now, the safe thing for Peter to do, the thing that could be proven, was to stay in the safety of the boat. Jesus tells him, though, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said (Matthew 14:27-29).”
Peter got down out of the boat. His eyes were fully on Jesus. Then, he let fear creep in. He took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter’s need to feel in control is what made him sink into the water. This is a lost and fallen world. Storms are not a possibility, they are a guarantee. When faced with the storm, we can do as the world does. Question God, reject His teachings and will for our lives, and turn to ourselves. Or, we can choose to do the unpopular, “uneducated”, “backward” thing, and choose to keep our eyes on the One who said that He would never leave us or forsake us.
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
Just let go.