Going the Distance
December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
From one of the greatest risk-takers I know personally and am privileged to call a friend, Doug Garner of Going the Distance Adventure Ministries.
Rappelling over the edge of a 100′ cliff is exciting to say the least. It’s one of those few surreal moments in life that cause you to feel fully alive. For many people, the fear of heights makes rappelling a very difficult activity – that same fear also happens to be what makes rappelling very exhilarating.
Usually an argument breaks out in your mind as you weigh the idea of an amazing experience versus the perceived risk of falling to your death. Internally you experience a storm of opposing emotions that grip your heart with both anticipation and hesitation. I’ve seen many strong men become paralyzed with fear and consider walking back down the mountain trail instead of rappelling down the cliff face. The astounding thing is that most people beat down their fears in order to risk everything so they can experience this amazing adventure.
In order to do this they have to connect onto an 11mm rope tied to an anchor, walk to the edge of a cliff, lean back and push-off… gravity and rope pretty much do the rest. The hardest part is leaning back over the edge.
It feels very unnatural because at this point, you are taking the greatest risk.
It’s also when you are taking the biggest step of faith as you put your trust in your anchor, your rope, your harness, your hardware, and even in your own abilities (not to mention your faith in God!). It’s common for the fearful rappeller to get to the bottom of the rock face after conquering their fear and let out a shout of celebration looking up and yelling, “That was awesome! Can I do it again?”
A great one-word definition for faith is risk.
As Christians, we all want to be people of great faith, but do you realize that in order to be a person of great faith you must be a person of great risk? Obedience to God is always an act of faith and it always requires an element of risk. It may not be a life or death level of risk each time, but you will be risking something – rejection, loss, hurt feelings, being misunderstood, judged, falsely accused – in order to obey.
It’s this risk, this life of faith, that makes following God the most adventurous lifestyle known to mankind. There’s nothing more exciting in life than to follow God’s call because in doing so you are setting off on a lifelong faith journey in which God will bring you face-to-face with every fear and inhibition that robs you of living out your God-breathed potential. Taking steps of faith isn’t quite as exciting as rappelling… it’s much better. There are times when God will prompt you to “lean back over the edge” and share the Gospel with a total stranger – or even more difficult, a close family member – or stand up for someone being ridiculed or ask someone out on a date or pursue a dream He has planted in your heart. In each situation you will have to connect to your spiritual rope, walk to the edge, lean back, and push-off in faith as you risk everything in order to live life to the fullest (John 10:10). As you obey each time you will look up towards God and shout in celebration, “That was awesome! Can I do it again?”
There is no greater adventure than following Jesus. Don’t retreat back down the mountain trail! Instead, raise the risk by leaning back over the edge and watch God exhilarate your soul.