I’ve been thinking recently about what makes us panic in a world of great change and upheaval.
Then, one day I found myself in a conversation at a community catch up meeting with an older lady who for some reason started talking about abseiling. Not sure if you’ve ever done abseiling, but I have once during my star-spangled career in my local scout group. Here’s the story.
One day we went to an indoor rock climbing center which also had you guessed it a 10 + meter indoor abseiling wall. I remember going up to the top of the wall, hooking in my carabiner and then immediately it hit me that the very worst moment in the whole operation is the initial leaning out over the wall. I’m not a medical professional but there is some sensor in your brain somewhere that just knows when your center of gravity has left your feet and now hangs above thin air as your entire weight is transferred to the rope.
It is so unsettling. Perhaps because it’s all fine and dandy to have your weight on your legs because you’re in full control of them but as soon as the weight transfers onto the rope, well I have to trust the rope. But moreover, I realized that there is absolutely no factoid or statistic on the rope’s breaking strain that can possibly calm that part of my brain that is freaking out.
In fact, the only reason why I got up there and actually went through with it at all was because of the stories of people who had gone first and managed to go down safely with huge smiles on their faces.
I’m aware there’s a verse in the scriptures from Proverbs 3:5-5 which says trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. That’s hard to do from day to day. Because there is a part of my soul that’s a bit like that part of my brain which completely freaks out every single time I transfer my weight over to him rather than being in control of everything myself.
That’s what the Bible constantly calls us to do, that is what faith is all about; pushing through that freak-out moment and allowing the weight to transfer off of our own feet. But like anyone who’s had to go through times of great change your no the all the objective facts and explanation do not answer that voice going crazy in your mind.
Yet for some reason, we still try to convince people of the suitability and importance of some changes by throwing facts and statistics at them, thinking that they will change their mind. The Bible doesn’t do that.
The Bible comes to us not as a rule book but as the story of real people and a real nation and the interaction with a real God. It Is only the ‘survivor stories’ that can come anywhere near convincing our anxious soul to indeed lean on his understanding and not our own. Ever wondered why Jesus told so many stories when the religious experts of his day were debating the interpretation of so many laws? Stories do seem to have the power to help us ‘over the ledge’ in a good way.
Thinking on the idea of the center of gravity, I’m wondering if we’ve each got a center of anxiety. In my role as a pastor, I spend a lot of my time finding out what people really panic over vs what is not really a big deal for them. Want to know where the greatest need for spiritual growth is? Finding where their center of anxiety is. We’ve all got one. It’s the thing that we’re saying “Lord you can have everything but just don’t touch that, that is what I need control over.”
So where is your center of anxiety? You still carrying it, the full weight of it under your own steam? Or is it time to lean on his understanding and release the burden?
You’ll find that Christ is like a rope that you can trust with your full weight and he has an infinite breaking strain.