This Christmas, I reflect upon a most memorable hike, a true turning & learning point in my life:
As I stepped to the side to avoid a slick-looking rock, planting my boot onto the outer edge of the trail, the ground suddenly broke beneath the weight of my step, plunging me over the side of the mountain. The painful slide began head first, I fully see the terrifying cliff-edge of the mountain approaching at warp speed. I want to scream but don’t have time, nor can spare the energy. Somehow one of my trekking poles hit a jutting rock, swinging me a full 180 and onto my back. I dig my feet into the pebbled mountainside as deep as possible, but my brakes are failing me. I can see the swift-approaching edge of the mountain. Beyond that is a minimum 4,000 foot drop. A terminal drop.
Suddenly I’m stopped, just a foot from tumbling over the side to certain and painful death. Time is suspended, frantic thoughts crowd my mind. All the kings horses and all the kings men … I’ll never be put back together again. Another out-of-place thought breaks through all of the others: ‘Let it end. Lift your foot. You only need to lift ONE and it’s over. Just. Let. Go.’
Crazy, I entertain the thought. I had already gone through a bilateral mastectomy, the healing and having to learn new muscle groups, physical therapy and all of the pain associated with all of that. Then “something of concern” in my lung, near the esophagus. I do NOT want to go out as a chronic lung-er. I just cannot handle this and I am momentarily tempted. My legs are shaking from the brut-force exertion.
Do I hold on? CAN I hold on?
Just then a voice calls out to me: “Hold on! We’re coming!” and I’m rescued by men who ‘just happened’ to have their rock climbing equipment with them. (Since, I’ve been very careful to step to the inside of the trail, avoiding that outer edge whenever possible. When not possible, my trekking poles are in strategic, stable positions. Another lesson painfully learned.)
Have you ever been tempted to simply let go? To one extent or another, for a multitude of reasons. So frustrated, to just let it all end already, stop even trying? I’m so done! This is just too hard! Or to let go of a toxic relationship, or bad habits, whatever. What little voice is tempting you? What life habits are making us turn to our safety net, our comfort zones that may not necessarily fully line-up with living the Christian life?
Even as fleeting as that thought was, a mili-second of temptation, if I had let go while hanging perilously on the side of that mountain, how many loved ones would I have hurt, maybe even ruined their future lives? My children are without question precious to me. Or what experiences and relationships would I have missed out on? There are just too many “what ifs”; I choose not to camp there.
I will not allow cancer to hijack my life! It is so very necessary, so indispensable to be fully aware of, and to be able to discern, the lies of the enemy of our soul. Make no mistake; satan is fully aware of his job description and you need to know that he is good at it. Hold on to your Guard; the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
But there is another kind of “letting go”. A good one. And a letting go that I am continually learning and developing into deeper dimensions, to fuller capacity. That is letting go and letting God while holding onto Him and His promises.
As I hike the wilderness, I’m developing a rich, meaningful relationship with the Creator of the very wilderness I am among. I have such a love for the forests, for its inhabitants large and small. And I have a deep commitment to letting go: to allow my Lord to mold me, to correct me, to direct me, to discipline me, to comfort me. And surprisingly enough, I needed to let go in order to receive His healing touch on my body. And mercifully, He did. Flat out miracle, xray and other medical-tests-proven. He is so merciful. He knows our limits and will not tempt us beyond them. 1 Corinthians 10:13 But we need to let go of the temptation, let go of our earthly desires (eg: one of mine is getting a home in the woods*), and allow Him to do His God thing, give Him the freedom because He has given us freedom to choose. I choose to hold on to His mercy and grace. His forgiveness that cleanses my soul as white as snow.
Meanwhile, I hike the woods, the desert, and along/above the pacific coast because, for me, there is where I feel freer to let go. I continually let go of all sickness and will not have it. Health is my mantra. I strive to continually let go of my selfish desires and wants so that I will be free to hear His Voice. He gives the (good) desires of my heart. Free to let go in my worship. I will never let go of my life, I recognize that brief temptation for what it was and I shake off that temporary insanity.
As an American, I have many freedoms and I sincerely thank each and every service person who has ensured that we maintain these freedoms. I choose to hike and chat with the Lord, free to let go or not.
Have a blessed Christmas & New Year my friends. I hope that if you haven’t already, learn to explore our wonderful parks and preserves, making your new year extra special indeed.
* Not all earthly desires are bad ones. I choose to let go of my desire for my “perfect house” in order to give room for Him to do His God thing. I’m confident He has the perfect place that will not meet, but exceed any expectations I may have.