Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fear of Falling

On the challenge course at Camp, a person's ability to climb more or less depends on their faith in the belay system. They trust that the ropes will keep them from hitting the ground, and that the system of people and commands will be effective. I've realized that in faith, I need to learn to place more trust in the system of spiritual guidance that God has given me. There have been a few times in my life when I was reckless, but for the most part I tend to err on the side of caution. Lately God has been showing me that I need to learn to take more risks, otherwise I'm not exercising my faith.

As far as finding God's will for me in a particular situation, I know all of the basics of spiritual discernment. I believe in the power of prayer, but sometimes have trouble acting on the answers to prayer, because I am afraid I will mistake my will for God's. Elisabeth Elliot writes that this kind of fear, while natural, is sometimes unnecissary, because "God uses even the detours" that we take to develop us spiritually. In other words, I have to stop being afraid to make mistakes. I had some opportunities to preach and lead people spiritually at the beginning of the summer, but lately I've stepped back a little, because I don't want to seem like I'm seeking out the spotlight. Still, if I believe that God is calling me to ministry, I'm going to have to risk people thinking I'm seeking attention. I'm also going to have to risk sounding stupid when I do speak up.

It also occurred to me that while my trust should always be placed in God, I have a great network of friends and family who are willing to point me in the right direction. When it comes to my heart, I've been really over-cautious lately. Its not even that there's been any real danger of me getting sidetracked or heartbroken, but I've been a little scared of even the possibility. I tend to get a little paranoid, but I should trust that my friends will help to guard my heart.

In challenge course training, we learned that risk involves the possibility of danger, but "taken in the right spirit" results in growth. I've belayed some people who were afraid of falling, and before I ask them if they want to climb back down (or not climb at all), I sometimes ask them to lean back on the rope so they can feel that it is holding them. That's such a great illustration of how God teaches us to trust. If we are always safe and on the ground- if we never open our hearts up to others, if we don't try to say the things that we're not sure how to say- we will never learn to trust. We also won't grow.