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Paul Schmehl @PaulSchmehl
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Last night I posted a thread about an experience I had that taught me a great deal about God. Since it provides needed context for tonight’s episode, if you haven’t read it, you should read it first.…
Tonight I want to talk about the negative overhang. (You’ll understand what that means a little later.) Last night’s thread showed how God took care of my physical needs. Tonight, I want to talk about how God helped me trust in him and overcome fear.
After we arrived at the camp, we had a pretty full schedule. Every day was full of hiking and cliff climbing. Most days, I relied on my physical skill to climb. I felt like I was in control and could handle the effort. Then came the negative overhang.
A negative overhang is a part of a cliff that projects out horizontally above you as your climbing. To get past it, you have to reach out and grab the rock above you and literally pull yourself up. It takes a good deal of strength to do that without losing your grip.
There was another guy at the camp, a friend of mine, whom I admired greatly. I would describe him as a black Adonis. He was 6’3” tall and well muscled, without an ounce of fat. He was both physically imposing and extremely attractive. I used him as my guide.
I would watch him climb, always making sure to be behind him in line, and then I would try to emulate his movements. I knew I wasn’t as physically capable as he was, but I figured if I imitated his movements, I would be OK. Then came the negative overhang.
It wasn’t just the overhang. The entire climb was very challenging. So, I watched him very closely, hoping for some hints on how to climb the cliff. When he fell three times, I knew I was in trouble. (We had safety ropes, so he didn’t fall far.) If HE couldn’t do it, I couldn’t.
When it was my turn, I walked to the bottom of the cliff, tied on the safety rope and closed my eyes. I said (in my head), God, I need help. I can’t do this on my own. Please guide my hands and feet and show me how to climb this cliff.) Then, I grabbed the first handhold.
When I arrived at the top, I had not fallen once. I felt very good, because I knew that God had helped me place my hands and feet in the right places to complete the climb without falling. But God had greater things in mind.
Later that day we were hiking when one of the counselors came alongside me and paced me. He leaned in and asked, How long have you been climbing? The question surprised me, so I didn’t answer right away. Then I said, I’ve never climbed before. Why do you ask?
He looked at me with surprise and said, You climbed that cliff like a pro. Every handhold and every foothold was right where it needed to be. Are you sure you’ve never climbed before? As he moved on, I felt elated. I thought, God, you are so cool.
You see, if God wanted to help me up that cliff, he could have done that any number of ways. Yet he chose to do it in a way that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he was helping me very step of the way. Since that day, I have never doubted God again.
The experience cemented my faith in a way that has been with me ever since that day. it will be with me until I die. If I ever question God, that cliff comes to mind, and immediately think, Don’t be silly. You have PERSONAL experience to back up your beliefs.
Now, the unbeliever would chalk it all up to coincidence or dumb luck. That’s fine. He doesn’t have the same frame of reference that I do. Once I crossed over that bridge, I could never return. It would name no sense. I had seen God’s power in action.
I had put my hands in the rock, right where he guided me to. To deny that would be like denying that I exist. God may not do something as dramatic as that with you. But then again, he may. The key is, you have to ask. And you have to trust that he will answer.
So, if you have a cliff to climb in your life, have you thought of asking God for help? Because I can assure you, he will help. More than you can imagine. More than you could think to ask for. And once you’ve climbed that cliff, with God’s help, you will never be the same again.
Your entire world will be different, as mine is. Life’s cliffs no longer look unclimbable. Everything is easier to do, because you can tap in to the greatest power ever and be victorious no matter the challenge.
Tomorrow night, I will tell you how God broke my religious upbringing and stubbornness. That was on the trip home.
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