First you jump off the cliff and then you build wings on the way down.
- Ray Bradbury
The long hike which is our summer camp season, ended this past weekend, bringing to a close a very long tour of mission work covering three months and stretching from Minnesota, to Chicago, to Africa and back to NE Wisconsin. On this journey we have seen so many saved, so many lives changed, and so much growth in ourselves and those around us. To say I feel exhausted after this long trek is an understatement... I feel totally drained, burned out, and beat up. Yet in the midst of the exhaustion, I feel totally invigorated, God is closer than ever before. I see things more clearly than ever before, and I am excited to move forward into what God has next. God has broken me many, many times this summer to help me see things His way, and not through my clouded vision, and I am thankful He has. In fact, at this moment I feel like I have hiked through valleys, fields, mountain passes, through searing heat, rained swelled rivers and then to the highest cliffs and then been asked to jump off the edge of that cliff, into the arms of Jesus. There is a perspective only seen from the heights that God can carry us to, and only after we jump can God catch us and raise us to those heights. In my exhausted state, well meaning people, warn me that the pace I keep as I hike, is way too fast. But I know God is waiting to refill and refuel me as He is doing right now in this week spent resting with my family. He is making me ready to begin hiking again to another cliff, in order that I may jump into His loving arms.
I am used to being regularly warned by well meaning hikers to take it easy, to watch out for the coming cliffs and pitfalls. So many of those with warnings are afraid to even get close to the edge, so scared of the edge they never even want to to see where it is. These people often are found hiding in the valley, waiting and warning others to be careful of what may be ahead, or what may happen to those who move to fast or far. There are still others who do hike to the edge but are afraid to look at the vista, and others who hike to the edge to look and walk back away from it in fear in order to be safe and secure. They to, often warn of what dangers the edge can hold. Then there are the millions who take the long journey up to the edge and spend a lifetime camped on the cliff, surveying all of God's possibilities, but never jump. These people find connections with others at the edge, but never experience the connection to God that only the jump brings.
All of the places God takes us to as we climb mountains for Him are important steps. We must mark each peak we stand on and remember them as we continue our walk with Him. He has us jumping over small brooks, running over rickety bridges, climbing hills and walking through dark places in order to learn to trust His guiding. We must prepare ourselves to not be afraid to go where He is taking us next, it may mean hiking in the snow of despair, or clinching to a steep face of rock that brings fear, or skipping through a golden field of wildflowers that bring joy, whatever it is, we must continue to walk with Him. But we must not be so engrossed in the hike that we forget the destination. With each step we are brought closer to Him, yet each step God will eventually lead us to the highest cliffs and then expect us to jump into His arms.
So as I look back on the long hike this summer I am more sure than ever that my job is to help others on the hike, and more importantly to help them make the jump of faith. I am thankful for all those on the same journey, hiking to the peak and especially for all those jumping into the arms of Jesus, that encourage me to do the same. As I fall into Jesus arms I look back up and see so many of you on the cliff looking down...Don't be afraid.. he will catch you, I promise... you know who you are!