Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Ledge

The story goes...

Once upon a time, there was a businessman visiting the mountains. On his last day of his business trip he decided he wanted to climb one of the mountains. Mid-morning he found a young man who was willing to guide him up the mountain for a day-climb. What he failed to realize and what the guide failed to share with him, is that starting a climb this late in the day was a problem since weather systems tended to come in over the mountain rapidly in the early afternoon. Regardless they started up the trail. As early afternoon approached the clouds moved in and temperature began to drop quickly from the relative warmth of the late morning hours. Neither climber was prepared for the weather change. Both were in hiking shorts, t-shirts, hiking boots and light jackets. They had small backpacks with water and snacks but no weather gear. They continued to climb and slowly the sky darkened and snow began to fall. The snow fell lightly at first and then more swiftly. The wind picked up. Both climbers slowed their pace and the businessman found himself staring intently at the footprints in front of him in the snow that his guide was making. He bundled up the best he could. The guide’s steps became slower and slower. They had lost the trail in the snow. They were above tree-line and the could see barely six feet in front or behind them. Finally the guide’s pace slowed to a full stop.

The businessman asked, “Why have we stopped?” “I don’t know exactly where we are on the side of the mountain,” he yelled back through the wind and snow. “What is the problem,” the businessman inquired. Then the guide announced, “There is a 200 foot crevasse that goes along the side of this trail. I fear we are too close to it and I’m afraid that if we keep going I’ll walk us off the side of it.” The businessman recognized the dilemma they found themselves in. Bad weather; unprepared climbers; lost on the trail; and in danger of falling off a cliff. The predicament was clear. But the solution was simple he thought… “we’ll just go back down the trail.” “We can’t,” replied the guide. “The snow has covered the trail and the crevasse winds along the path, so to go back might also mean walking off the side of the cliff.” The two men stood in silence as the reality of their situation fell upon them as quickly as the snow fell around them.

Suddenly out of the snow to their right came a voice. “You guys are in trouble aren’t you?” the voice obviously questioned. “I’ve been watching you for some while from above you. You are right, the crevasse is about eight or so feet to your right. If you would have kept going you would have walked off the side. I’m on the other side of it.” “But what do we do now?” the businessman yelled into the whiteness. “Well, you can’t go back, because as your guide said, you would also risk walking into the crevasse. I’ll walk down the mountain and send help up in the morning.” After a long pause he yelled back, “I think your only chance for survival is to move to the edge of the crevasse, ease yourself over the edge and drop onto a ledge that is about eight feet down the side of the cliff.” The questions began to spin in the two men’s heads. What ledge? How does he know there is a ledge? Why should I trust him? Who is he anyway? What if there is no ledge?
The men began a deluge of questions for the voice in the storm. How did he know about the ledge? He’d lived on the mountain his whole life. Had he ever been on the ledge? Yes, several times. How big was the ledge? It was big enough to hold them. What was his name again? His name was Carl. The guide recognized the name and knew his reputation as a well known mountaineer from the area. The questions went on and on and then ended with, “Why should we trust you?” The answer, “Because if you choose not to trust me, you will surely die from exposure on the side of this mountain.”

With that Carl’s voice trailed off and he headed down the mountain for help. The two men were left alone to decide what they would do. Knowing that deep in their hearts they needed to trust the voice in the snow, they slowly made their way to the edge of the crevasse. They looked intently over the side when they reached the edge. They didn’t know if they could even make out the shadow of the ledge as the light faded and the snow blew around them. The guide went first. He lowered himself over the side and hung down by his knuckles. Slowly each finger released until he dropped out of sight and landed with a thud on the ledge. Then the businessman, shaking from the cold and nerves, lowered himself slowly over the edge. He too gripped the edge of the cliff with all of his strength until the weight of his body pulled him downward. He also landed on the firm footing of the ledge. There they spent the night out of the wind and snow, huddled together until help came to rescue them in the sunrise of the next morning. And indeed they lived happily ever after.

Too often the world would love to point the finger at Christians and describe our faith as blind and ignorant. In the world’s eyes believers hear about the ledge, then run to the edge and jump off just hoping that a ledge exists. I’ve searched God’s Word quite a bit and I never read that faith is that unknowing. I believe that God wants us to test him and ask tough questions and get to know him in a way that builds an incredible trust so that when He does tell us about the ledge that we willingly follow his lead to the edge. Does it still take faith? You bet! When those fingers actually let go of the edge of the cliff we are exercising a full measure of the faith God wants from us – but we do it knowing the voice in the storm so well that we can trust His word and direction.

What kind of faith do you have?

1 comment:

Josh said...

great word....tell my sister hi ;)