The Solid Rock

A few years ago I had a wonderful opportunity to hike a glacier in Alaska. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I was determined to experience the beauty of God’s creation firsthand. I am a runner by choice, so I assumed I was fit enough for the venture. I was wrong. The uphill, rocky, wild, and slippery climb was terrifying. 

     Having to lift my foot higher than the opposite knee to keep moving upward was exhausting, and the beauty of the dancing and spraying waterfalls only made the rocky path more treacherous. There were no railings or guardrails, just slippery rocks and wet foliage. Worse yet, experienced hikers and climbers older than me kept passing me as though I was standing still … which I would have preferred doing! 

     The experience reminded me of the danger of slippery slopes, whether they are physical or spiritual. Who has not been in that critical moment of realizing that to move forward with an idea, a temptation, or inappropriate pursuit meant risking falling hard off the path that God calls us to pursue? In terms of brain development, risk assessment is not as well developed in our youth as it becomes with age and experience. We have all put our souls on a slippery slope at one point or another.

     Fortunately, we have a God whose faithful love steadies us and whose comfort calms us. Unlike the glacier trek that we find ourselves on, God is a dry and stable rock of refuge for our unstable tendencies.

     This thought is especially comforting when we are being assaulted by evildoers. When the wicked gang up against us, God commands us to be still and not respond. Psalm 94 reminds us that God will destroy the wicked for their evil and we are to stand still on the rock of this promise.

Psalm 24:16-23 (The Message)

Who stood up for me against the wicked?
    Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
    I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
    your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
    you calmed me down and cheered me up.

20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
    Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
    plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
    God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
    for their evil ways he wiped them out,
    our God cleaned them out for good.

To attempt retribution on our own is a sure way to slide downhill into the behavior of the evildoers, making us just like them. This is an important teaching. God will take up our cause and bring the wicked to justice. Leave it be, says the Lord. Vengeance is God’s alone (Romans 12:19).

     I eventually made it down from the glacier, and you will arrive safely from your arduous trek if you put your life and your safety in God’s hands. God is the one who will stand up for us and help us when havoc wreaks in our lives and our feet feel unsure. As we sing in the hymn, “On Christ the solid rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand.” (My Hope is Built, United Methodist Hymnal p. 368).

Slippery Slope

Of Mice and Women

 I HATE MICE. Mice scurrying across the floor absolutely WIGS ME THE WIG OUT. I was a young Navy wife when I first got married, and we moved across country to California for our first duty assignment. We bought a brand new town house that was built on a strawberry field. So you know who immediately moved in? Strawberry field mice. NINE of them. It was horrible!

It was fine when my young Navy pilot was home to deal with it, but that only lasted for the first week, and then I was on my own…with the mice. I can’t stand looking at them, dead or alive, so I invented an INGENIOUS way of trapping them. Like, I should patent this.

I bought a handful of mousetraps and a package of paper lunch bags at the Navy Exchange. I set the traps with peanut butter and then slipped them into the back of an open lunch bag that I laid on the floor. The mouse would walk into the bag, and SNAP! I just had to pick up the bag and throw the whole thing away. INGENIOUS, right?

I bragged about this to my mother-in-law, who was a veteran Navy wife and not afraid of anything. She was appalled. “Betsy, you can just open up the trap over a trash can, dump out the mouse, and re-use the trap!” You see, Mom was a master at re-using things. She washed foil and zip lock bags all the time. She bought a box of zip lock bags once in the ‘60’s and used them for the rest of her life.

“Mom, I can’t stand looking at them! I know we’re only at Ensign pay, but I think we can afford to throw away a mouse trap that only costs $.54 at the Exchange!”

Psalm 94 (New International Version)

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.

Everybody has that one thing which provokes an almost irrational fear …sharks, airplanes, elevators, roller coasters, snakes, rush hour in Atlanta….and we also have rational fears. If you’ve been stalked, or abused, or threatened, it is rational to be afraid of that person. When we have to venture out into a big unknown, it is rational to experience anxiety. When your kid takes the car out for a solo drive for the first time, it is normal to worry.

But letting fear control your life is not rational. Jesus reminds us in the book of John that he came so that we might have “life abundant.” Abundance and fear cannot live in the same place.

Clearly there is a clinical aspect to anxiety that can be remedied with good therapy. But for the non-clinical situations that we face every day, it is good for us to take a deep breath and remember that anytime our foot slips, God’s unfailing love is there to support us. God’s consolation and presence can help us take our eyes off obsessing over our fears. God does not give us fear. He gives us love, power and SELF-CONTROL.

So whatever your “mouse” is, find a way around it. Remember scripture. Pray for calm. Take control. Center yourself in the knowledge that God is always with you: you shall not fear. His rod and his staff will comfort you. You’re never alone with God.

God is Always With You. Photo by Bev Mineo