Hang on to the Rope

The story is told of a helicopter that was called to remove eleven stranded skiers from a mountain top during an avalanche. The pilot deployed a rope ladder and instructed them to hang on. As they clung to the rope and flew away, the wind shear became treacherous when they flew over a deep ravine. The helicopter began to dip, and the pilot called down to the ten men and one woman clinging to the rope that the helicopter could only support the weight of ten people. So in order for everyone to survive, someone would have to let go. 

The skiers began to grumble and fight among themselves, and finally the woman spoke up. 

“Gentlemen, I have lived a life of service to my family. I have sacrificed all of my life for my children and my husband. I denied myself at every turn, even taking care of both my parents before they died. In light of that, I have decided that since sacrifice was the way I lived, sacrifice will be the way I die. I will sacrifice myself so that you all may survive.” When the men heard this they were overcome with gratitude, and immediately every single one of them took their hands off the rope and burst into applause!

But on a more serious note….

For every one of you who lives a life of service to your family, who makes sacrifices for their welfare, and who works tirelessly to provide for your household: we see you. You live a life of frequent self-denial so that others might thrive and be happy. But make no mistake…DON’T LET GO OF THE ROPE.

Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That, right there, is your rope. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Grab ahold of him.

I remember once seeing our preschool’s two-year-old class walking to the playground. The teachers use a long rope with multiple loops with handles, and the kids hang on to it as they walk. Yep, we got kids-on-a-rope right here! And you know those kids hang on for life.

So too should we. We need to hang on to God for dear life.

Joshua 23 (The Message)

 8 Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.

9-10 “God has driven out superpower nations before you. And up to now, no one has been able to stand up to you. Think of it—one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God, your God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you.

So the next time you’re falling into bed well after midnight because you were up finishing the laundry, helping a child with a science project that they only remembered after dinner is due tomorrow, or fixing the garbage disposal, know that God was there. When the alarm goes off at O-Dark-Thirty tomorrow morning, realize that God will be along for the ride as you commute to work for another long day.

God honors your sacrifice. You are a blessing to your family. So hang on! God is God…YOUR God. You are never alone.

This is the legit Safety Information Card from an airline that I flew on. Once.

What, Me Worry?

Over the holidays I spotted a holiday edition of MAD Magazine. I was standing in the grocery store checkout line and there he was, gap-toothed Alfred E. Newman, grinning up at me. MAD Magazine is the iconic snark-fest, anti-establishment publication from the 70’s that was the delight of every sarcastic kid in my South Jersey neighborhood. Somebody would score a copy and it would be passed around like a precious loaf of homemade rye on a Bronx street corner. You would feast on every word and graphic until it was somebody else’s turn and you had to reluctantly give it over. If you were the lucky one to be at the end of the breadline, you got to savor it for weeks. I think (unfortunately) that a lot of my humor was formed in that savoring. I’m kind of proud and ashamed at the same time.

Alfred E. Newman was the de facto mascot, and he answered every satirical cultural problem with “What, me worry?” Everything was met with that response: the nuclear arms race, Watergate, the Vietnam War (Lordy, I am dating myself here)…no matter what was wrong, his response was the same. What, me worry?

Oh, how I long to have that attitude. Wouldn’t you like to be Alfred E. Newman for just one day and say back to every problem, “YOU CAN’T WORRY ME.” Instead, I think we actually go about our day looking for things to worry about. We succumb to a highly contagious disease known as what-if-itis and just what-if ourselves to death.

Meanwhile, God says to us, “What, you worry?”

Joshua 1 (New International Version)

”Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

This incredible passage is God’s response to Joshua upon the death of Moses. MOSES. ‘Young Joshua, I want you to continue Moses’ work and lead the people into the promised land. There will be rivers to cross, Hittites to battle, hunger to address, and the people you are leading are not particularly known for their compliance and cooperation, not to mention that you are replacing MOSES, but you go, young Joshua! Take my people into a foreign land.‘

And we think we’ve got trouble!

God’s word to Joshua is the same to us today. Take another look at that problem you are worried about, and remember that God is telling you to not be afraid. He encourages you to not be discouraged. His COMMAND is to be strong and courageous. How can God make such an outrageous request of us as we stand here with our knees knocking? Because he promises to be with us wherever we go.

Wherever you go. The operating room, the divorce court, the psych ward, the funeral home, the test room, the angry conversation, the teenager’s bedroom…God is with you. Be strong. Be courageous. You are not alone.

What, you worry??

Look at the birds in the air. They neither sow nor reap, yet God provides for them. Who among you can add one single hour to your life by worrying?
Photo by Michelle Robertson