The North Pacific Coast is known for its icy cold waves that crash into rock formations of various sizes that litter the shore. When Rich and I were newlyweds, we lived about an hour northeast of San Francisco and its beautiful coastline. We decided for our 3rd anniversary that we would take a trip down to the coast. We found a beautiful spot and were soon climbing up and down the rocks along the beach. Looking for adventure, we chose to climb a rather tall rock with waves pounding it on one side and coming in to brush against it gently on another. Scouting the best way up, we had to start on the side receiving the waves and timed our ascent with the waves building away from the beach. Rich went first and I followed, grabbing the same hand and foot holds he had used. Invigorated by the salt spray of the ocean on my face and the smell of the sea air, I climbed. Shadowing Rich’s actions made climbing easier and my confidence in my ability soared.
Rich reached the top first, and for just a second he disappeared from my view. I took that moment to look down. The violent and unrelenting waves hit the rock below. With a dizzying reality, I saw how high we had climbed. Tearing myself from the downward view, I looked back up. Rich was at the top on his knees, looking over the edge.
“Come on up,” he said.
“You have some handholds above you- just reach out and I will help pull you to the top.”
“I can’t” I whispered. And gripped more tightly the shallow crevice of the rock that was keeping me upright. Even though I was a couple of handholds from the top, it seemed an insurmountable distance to my eye. I was so focused on the dangers below, that I could not see how I could get safely to the top. I feared if I moved my hands or feet, I would slip and fall to the ground. The ease I had felt climbing behind Rich had been replaced by fear, then panic, and in that state, I lost my ability to move.
Rich tried to be nice at first with words of encouragement and promised help.
When that didn’t work, he tried to be more direct with his instructions, but nothing he said could unlock my body’s willingness and ability to move. As I stared up at Rich’s hand offered out for help, and saw that he now was afraid, I lowered my face and leaned my forehead against the uneven and jagged edges.
The pain from the rock, and my muscles rebelling at having to support me for so long motivated me to do something. Not daring to look down again and knowing it would be harder to go down than up, I took one last look at Rich’s anxious face, and with all that I had, willed my hands and feet to move, until I, too, was safely at the top.
In times of trial and unplanned change, it takes real courage and composure to move forward in Faith. As the waves of change threaten us, we can feel vulnerable and exposed. When going back isn’t an option and moving forward seems daunting, we too might become paralyzed. We can be so focused on the past that we cannot move forward.
In those moments, when we cannot move another step on our own, God helps us find our strength. In the acknowledgment that we cannot make it on our own, we take off the limitations we put on God and allow Him to take us someplace better as our will and His will for our lives become aligned. It is then, in that place, that we are participating in our own salvation, and we see how great God is.