In my early to mid-twenties, I rock climbed. I did it for two reasons. One was the challenge of it. It was not just a very physically involved sport, but it also involved your mind as well. I also did it because there were lots of cute boys out there at the crags. It was mostly the challenge of it, though. It was not just how it challenged me physically requiring power that I didn’t know that I had, but it was very scary for me.
The thing with climbing is that each route is different and each route requires different moves. Each climber has different builds and different physical abilities, so how one climber gets to the top can be completely different from another. However, the one goal remains the same; that is to get to the top. Starting from the ground you use not just your hands and arms, you use your entire body to get you there. You are pretty much defying gravity in the sense that you are using what you have to move further and further off of the ground. You think about your moves as you grab from hold to hold while your rope is secured to you and some sort an anchor be it bolts or gear that you have placed in the rock. Even though you are doing all the work in some sense, that line and that anchor has you regardless of how you feel that it’s all up to you to stay on the side of a cliff. You don’t want to fall, but sometimes you do. When you do, it scares the pooh out of you, but very quickly you remember the line has got you and you find yourself able to trust that line. In trusting that line, you find yourself more fearless of making your next move.
At some point of a climb, it is certain that you will come to the part of the route called the crux. This is the hardest part of the climb. Not only technically it is the most difficult, but you have already been climbing and therefore tired. You’re higher up therefore it is more dangerous too. You cannot always power your way over the crux, you have to consciously work your way through it. Two of the most crucial factors in success of getting over the crux are rest and trust. Even on the climb a skillful climber will find points of rest even while on the rock. You may have to use a leg or feet to keep you in close while you rest your arms. You tend to get inventive in finding ways to do this. Sometimes, though, a climber just has to let go and hang on the line a little bit until he is ready to get back to it.
A skillful climber has to trust. He has to trust his holds in order to move. He has to trust his partner who is holding him up. He has to trust the line and he has to trust the anchors. Trust is the only way a climber can move in confidence. There is no set amount of time a climber gets through the crux. It could take a few minutes. It could take all day long. There are times a climber not ready for that particular challenge will lower back down without achieving his goal only to return the next weekend refreshed and ready to go again.
Climbing to me is like faith. Faith is vertical. It requires us to defy the standards of the world just like climbing defies gravity. Climbing is hard work and so is faith at times. There are difficult points in our faith where, even though we are already tired, we are challenged even more. There are different routes we climb in our faith and just like the strength a climber acquires climbing different routes so do we in our faith. We trust and rest in our line, Jesus which is connected to our Anchor, God the Father. In this trust and rest, we realize that even when we fall and we do not reach our goal, that He has been the one holding us up all along. We built trusting relationships that last among the people we are climbing with and we in turn hold each other up.
We are called to this kind of faith. You cannot call a person on the ground that merely points up and tells you about the route, in the same way, you cannot be a true disciple without climbing. We are not called to remain on the ground. We were called to defy gravity and show the world that He has the power to get us up. Stronger in Him, yet by rest and trust in Him that holds us, we move. We overcome the most difficult parts of our lives yet only to realize He was holding us all along. Through that we become more confident to move. Through that we become fearless. Through that we show the world that we are not mere posers, but Children of God, disciples of Christ, and that he is real. People will notice.