Holds

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, 
And He delights in his way. 
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, 
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NASB)

I’ve been climbing a lot this week. More, really, in one week at Tauernhof than the rest of the year in Kandern. I don’t resent the Schwarzwald’s lack of climbable rocks–there is a passable castle wall for bouldering–but it is certainly wonderful to be back in the land of Klettergartens and indoor gyms for rainy days.

Training for Upward Bound has been rich and strenuous, and at the end of this week I find that my mind wanders easily into the analogies that so ready present themselves in this field of experiential learning. Objects and actions take on metaphoric meaning, turning the whole summer into living poetry of this journey with Christ. I love this.

So as I sit on the ground of the Teufelzahne Klettergarten, wind whistling through the sharp rocks, I’m looking up at the climbing route I’ll try in a moment. It looks mysteriously smooth, and smooth isn’t helpful for climbing. When it’s my turn, I put on shoes and chalk and look up one last time. It might be impossible for me, I decide. Or maybe not. But it doesn’t matter much right now, as I begin. I know that if I fall in the attempt, my belayer will catch me and probably even encourage me. I also know that there’s only so much planning ahead that I can do with this route. With a shrug, I take the step that’s clear to me, the tiny one near the ground, and stand up onto the wall. I feel for the sure holds, unable to see them from below. More often than not, the places that I’d intended to stand or grab are slippery from too much use, and I have to keep reaching, choosing the unlikely holds that are surprising in their security.

And while there are many strong comparisons between climbing and life with Christ, it strikes me that this climb, along with the verse I shared at the beginning, is perhaps the most striking reflection of my current journey. Because I’m not sure entirely, all the steps of this route that He has me on. Because often the people I’ve come to trust and love, the ones who have helped me, are not people I could see at the beginning; they appear just at the right moment, reminders of God’s faithfulness. Because I know that I’ll fall and stumble, as the when of the Psalm suggests, but also that I am secure and beloved.

But the first step, the next step, is clear enough to continue. Thank You, Father, for this step.

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