Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
Many years ago, while I was student teaching in Dusseldorf, Germany, I co-led a group of 9th and 10th graders on an Outward-Bound adventure in the Austrian Alps. Over the course of the week, we hiked in beautiful, snow-capped mountains, rafted down a freezing cold Alpine river, learned teamwork on a high-ropes course, and learned to trust one-another rock climbing.
One of the last ‘adventures’ of the week was repelling down a 100-foot cliff. Our instructor prepped the ropes, checked and double-checked everyone’s harness, and then volunteered me to go first to show the students what to do.
All my life I have struggled with acrophobia, the fear of heights. Try to imagine, then, me leaning back over a cliff, secured by a one-inch rope, trying to look brave for about a dozen teenagers. As I pushed off and began my descent, my fear abated, somewhat. It was exhilarating, slowly descending down, almost like flying.
But then, without warning, I heard a loud CRACK sound. My heart jumped into my throat as I grasped for the rope with both hands just above my head. Once I got my wits back about me, I realized I was not plummeting to my death and started checking my harness and ropes. Everything seemed in order. It seemed two of my carabiners securing my ropes had simply rubbed together and made the sound I heard. I finished my descent, relieved but also energized by the experience.
I think about how tightly I was clinging to that rope sometimes when the world starts getting me down. Just as I was holding on for dear life on the side of that cliff, sometimes it feels like I am holding on for dear life to hope for the future. Holding fast to what is good can be the only thing that gets me through some days.
No matter what is going on in the world, both near and far, don’t let go. Hold fast to love. Hold fast to what is good. Hold fast to all that Jesus taught so that the kingdom of God may come near. The rope that God has set for us is secure. Hold tight, hold strong, hold fast.