Fire Fall Down

On Monday we did the climbing tower. I was fairly confident at first and started up fast, thinking, “Oh, I got this.” But halfway up I hit a point where I couldn’t find anywhere to balance. All the rocks around me were too small to stand on, and by that point I was starting to realize that I’m not nearly as strong as I thought I was. And I also learned that I’m really not good at admitting defeat. I couldn’t make it to the top, and it felt like a huge failure. It temporarily erased the confidence that I had built up over the last few days, and I felt like it cancelled out all my other accomplishments that I had been so proud of before. When I got back to the cabin to shower before dinner, I just sat down in the corner of the shower and cried. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t do it, and then I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed and was making such a huge deal out of it.

Mrs. Sharon (Mom) led a powerful devotional that night, and I felt like every word of it was spoken straight to me. She talked about how we try to self-generate the qualities that we think we need, but we can’t equip ourselves. She asked the group what are some things that we fear, and Mr. Fred answered, “Being unable to do things we think we should be able to do.” That had been so me at the climbing tower. I knew I should be able to climb to the top, and it made me so angry that I couldn’t. We talked about 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10, which I had written in my journal the night before I left for camp. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“The weaker the instrument,” Mom summarized, “the more clearly God’s grace shines through.”

Then we had a time of individual contemplative prayer in which Mom read/imagined us through letting go of whatever we were holding. By this point, I couldn’t hold in the tears anymore, and they dropped steadily onto my lap. She had us write down what it was we were giving to Christ. I’ll write that here, but I’ll also add how He responded to me:

I’m holding everything I need to prove. It’s a long list. It’s heavy. I’m tired of carrying it with me. He takes it from me and we begin to talk. He asks why I was so upset about not making it to the top of the climbing tower, and I answer that I want to be strong and self-sufficient. He takes it from me and responds, “But this way, I can be strong for you.”

We all went outside with our pieces of paper to where there was a fire waiting. One by one we crumpled them and threw them in the fire, and sat around the circle watching them burn. Caleb was playing his guitar and singing “Let Fire Fall.” After we repeated those words a few times, building up to the climax of the bridge, Caleb started playing louder and more intensely, and raised the song an octave from its soothing tempo into a passionate cry – and as soon as his voice rang out, there was a quick burst of flame as the fire sparked loudly. The timing was too perfect for coincidence. We all knew it was something else. And it was one of the most amazing, powerful things I have ever witnessed God do.

Published in: on June 2, 2012 at 10:33 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I appreciate the updates! This one in particular resonated with me. Maybe I just connected with the climbing story metaphor. I do like to rock climb, but as I’m not yet very good at it I’m full of failure and second attempt stories. One in particular comes to mind, maybe because it happened this morning. I hope the lesson is as clear as I think it is. It’s somewhat opposite of what you were hitting at, but I don’t believe it is opposed.
    In many ways, God gives us more strength than we realize. While I am referring mostly to what we might call spiritual strength, I had a great physical and mental example of this just this week.
    One memorial day I went with my family and several friends to a climbing location I will refrain from naming. (It’s legal, but unlisted in any guides to help maintain its quality.) I’d been here before and done one of the easier climbing routes several months ago. I climbed this a couple of times and then decided that I’d try out the harder route. Several of my friends had already climbed this route and made it to the top. I started, got to the middle and hit some trouble. There is an area on this rock where there is a single large jug (look up “climbing jug” on google. Otherwise know that this is an amazing and useful formation to find at this size on natural rock.) that you can reach from a large ledge when fully extended. There are no other foot or handholds in the area. You have to pull then push yourself up on this jug and try to find a fingerhold to balance with as you get your foot on a hold right next to the jug. I started pulling myself up with my right hand while simultaneously feeling for holds with my left. I couldn’t find any and freaked out. Long story short, I gave up and repelled the twenty-five odd feet to the ground more than a little embarrassed. Imagine how I felt when one of the newbies pulled herself to the top with little apparent effort. I knew I had the strength and balance to get over that spot, but I didn’t. I didn’t get another opportunity to try again that day.
    Today, my family went back to this area and I got another shot at this particular route. I made an attempt, got to the trouble spot, stared at it for about thirty seconds and mentally told myself that I was strong enough to conquer it. I was right. I didn’t freak out. I never found any good handholds. I found one or two fingerholds that I could use to balance, though they wouldn’t bear much weight. Somehow, I summoned the strength to make it over the small ledge. When I got over this, I was presented with a harder challenge. Fueled by the success of my previous victory, I pulled myself to the top. Twice.
    So maybe I’m bragging a little. I certainly feel proud of myself. However, there is a deeper purpose behind this narrative. The first day I was just as well prepared as the second, maybe even more so. What I didn’t realize until it was too late is that I was strong enough, even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. The second day, today, I remembered this and triumphed. This is much like our life. We hit a snag. We fall into a rut. We ask God to carry us through it.
    Iimagine if I had asked my belayer to pull me up over my snag. He would have just laughed. (Aren’t you glad God isn’t like that?) I had to pull myself up. My belayer had my rope in case I slipped. I knew I wouldn’t fall. Sometimes, I believe, God says this to us when we say we’re stuck. He tells us we’re stronger than we think. We CAN make it over the ledge. He won’t do it for us because he wants us to get stronger. He has our rope. He’ll catch us if we slip so we can try again and again.
    God will never give us more than we can handle. That doesn’t mean he won’t make us push our limits beyond what we though possible. Keep in mind that he created us. He knows our limits better than we do. I think he takes pleasure in showing us the strength he gave us that we have not yet discovered; he shows us ourselves as he sees us.
    Anyway, I hope that I got my point across.
    Try that climbing wall again later, Lauren. You might find you have the strength after all. It sounds like God is using this to show you just what an amazing young woman you are.

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