From the Pastor September

From the Pastor

When I was in North Carolina, some friends and I went for a hike on Grandfather Mountain. I was expecting, and ready for, a challenging four-mile hike over some rugged terrain.  What I got was closer to mountain climbing.  There was a stretch where we had to navigate a steep rock-face by climbing ladders and shimmying along a narrow ledge while holding onto a cable.  That wasn’t what I signed up for.  Nothing scares me more than heights, and had I known ahead of time that there were going to be ladders and cables and steep drop-offs, I wouldn’t have taken the first step down the trail.


You can probably see where I’m going with this: This is a newsletter about facing our fears.  I had to face my fears on the side of that mountain.  The point at which I was the most afraid, when I had to let go of the cable and reach for yet another ladder, was the point at which it was most important that I keep moving.  I couldn’t stay there and I couldn’t go back, because there were other people on the ledge.  I had to go up the ladder.  


To get up the ladder, I had to stop thinking.  It was the old one-step-at-a-time lesson, I had to put it into practice.  I had to stop thinking and just act.  Overcoming fear is a physical thing.  We can’t really think our way out of it; we have to act, we have to move.  We have to pay attention to how we feel, but we can’t let that feeling overwhelm us, we have to trust that we can work through it, that we can keep going even though we are afraid.


Now, this isn’t a story about completely overcoming fear once and for all.  I didn’t even completely overcome my fear on that climb.  I reached a point where I couldn’t go on anymore.  We came to a ledge near the top of the mountain where there was room enough to sit and rest.  So I sat.  And I shook.  And my legs tightened.  And I joked that somebody was going to have to call for a helicopter to come get me.  We were so close to the peak, but I couldn’t bring myself to go any further.  I caught my breath, wiped off my palms, waited for the way to clear, and started back down.

I wish I had had the courage to go further.  I bet the views were magnificent.  At the same time, I’m proud of myself for making it as far as I did.  Other friends I was with weren’t afraid at all, some were as afraid or more afraid.  We all have different fears, different limits, different comfort levels.  God calls us all and accepts us for who we are.  God wants us to challenge ourselves, and go beyond where we think we can go.  God wants us to see the magnificent views from the mountain top, but God also loves us when we feel we gone far enough and choose to go back.

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