Trust the Rope

“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.  She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.  If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them.  But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

  • Joshua 2:12-21

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

  • Psalm 22:9-10

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

  • Jude 1:24-25

“You and I are on a great climb.  The wall is high, and the stakes are higher.  You took your first step the day you confessed Christ as the Son of God.  He gave you his harness – the Holy Spirit.  In your hands he placed a rope – his Word.

“Your first steps were confident and strong, but with the journey came weariness, and with the height came fear.  You lost your footing.  You lost your focus.  You lost your grip, and you fell.  For a moment, which seemed like forever, you tumbled wildly.  Out of control.  Out of self-control.  Disoriented.  Dislodged.  Falling.

“But then the rope tightened, and the tumble ceased.  You hung in the harness and found it to be strong.  You grasped the rope and found it to be true.  And though you can’t see your guide, you know him.  You know he is strong.  You know he is able to keep you from falling.”

  • Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder

When I read the Lucado quote, I remembered my old Army training.  One of the things that I was good at was rappelling.  In rappelling, you created a harness out of rope, tied yourself to a rope and let yourself down to the ground, usually bouncing down a wall.  But I once free rappelled from the roof of an empty Quonset hut, helicopter hanger, just swinging in the breeze.

That free rappel qualified me to rappel from a helicopter, but then the exercise was cancelled, and I lost my chance.  The key thing with helicopter rappelling is that you never stop yourself until you hit the ground and you have no belay.  Helicopter rappelling can get you to an inaccessible location quickly, but the helicopter pilot needs to know what he is doing.  Usually several people will jump at the same time.  When you are free falling, with some of your descent slowed by the rope, the helicopter has less load.  This means that the helicopter might start to climb, if the pilot is not ready for the shift in the weight he is carrying.  If the helicopter climbs too much, you run out of rope before you reach the ground.  That ruins your day, and causes the helicopter pilot a lot of problems, filling out the paperwork.

Of course, if you see that you are far from the ground with very little extra rope and you tighten the rope, stopping your descent, the helicopter load goes back to its original load (holding you completely), and, if the pilot is descending to compensate for the lack of load, you stopping your descent can bring the helicopter down on your head, giving you a monster headache for a fraction of a second.  That ruins your day, and causes the helicopter pilot a lot of problems, filling out the paperwork.

But if you are descending a cliff or the wall of a building, as did the spies at Jericho, leaving the home of Rahab, the harlot, you can stop anywhere along the descent.  The rope is attached to something sturdy up above, something that won’t fly up or crash down.  The rope is strong and it can support you.

And you can have a belay on the ground.  If using a D-ring and a belay, the belay can pull the rope taut.  This puts pressure against the loop of rope in the D-ring and you will stop.  The belay is there for safety, in case you do something wrong or if you lose control.

In looking back at the Lucado quote, the Bible is our rope.  If we don’t read it, we might as well use it for a doorstop.  The Holy Spirit is our harness.  We need to pray and listen for God’s Voice, otherwise, we may never know who the Holy Spirit is.  Yet, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us, but we still must listen.

Further in the Lucado quote, we grasp the rope and we know the rope to be true.  We know that the Bible is true, and we rely on that truth.  We rely on the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God.  And although we cannot see our guide, we know Him.

When I rappelled from a tower or off the top of the football stadium, I yelled the command, “On Rappel!”  I did not venture over the edge until I heard the command from below, “On Belay!”  That let me know that he was there.  That was the military training requirement, but the military never required you to lean over the edge and see that the belay was there.  You only needed to hear that he was ready for you.

You see, I am afraid of heights.  They call it acrophobia.  Not crippling, but I would not have dared staring over the edge to see that the belay was holding the end of the rope.  I could fall!  Maybe I am afraid of that abrupt landing rather than the height.  Is there a sudden stop phobia?  I looked it up and couldn’t find anything.

And does it seem strange that I am afraid of heights, yet I loved rappelling.  I was even crest fallen to qualify for helicopter rappelling and not being able to do it?  Does that qualify me for insanity?

No, I trusted the rope.

I knew that the rope would hold.  I knew I was safe.  And when rappelling down a wall or a cliff, I knew that the belay was there to catch me if I stumbled, that Jude reference above, even though I had not seen him.

I pray so that I can spend time trusting in Jesus and listening to the guidance given by the Holy Spirit.  I read the Bible to learn more about God, how He is working in my life today, and in what way He wishes for me to go – thus, reading once 20 years ago doesn’t help the now.  John 3:16 says that we will have everlasting life if we only believe.  I read something by Lee Strobel about two years ago where he said that the word ‘believe’ in the original text could also be translated as ‘trust.’

Do you believe in Jesus as I once believed in a rope, ready to jump from a helicopter?  I was afraid of the sudden stop if I fell, but I knew that the rope was the difference in a safe landing and a mess of broken bones and a lot of pain.  I trusted the rope, and the belay when I had one.  Do you trust in Jesus as if your life depended upon it?  … Because it does.

Is your faith, your trust, your belief in Jesus that strong?  Can you climb a rock face or rappel down one, knowing that He will catch you?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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