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).