Rope Burn

Last night my husband and I watched a program about becoming an Army Ranger. It was amazing! I’m so grateful to those men and women who stand on the wall for all of us, and equally grateful that it doesn’t have to be me! I’d be out the first time I had to climb more than 6 feet off the ground. “Do you want to quit, soldier?!” “Uh, sir, yes sir!” That’s me.

One of the things a Ranger has to learn is to rely on their buddy. All for one and one for all…and all that. That must be the hardest part for these brave, self-sufficient and independent soldiers. It is so humbling to accept that you are not able to accomplish your task alone, and that as much as someone is relying on you, you also must rely on them. One of the “tests” these Army Rangers have to pass is based on this truth. From the top of a small cliff, they must rappel down the side, without touching the rope, while their buddy at the bottom belays them safely to the ground. They have their feet against the rock, legs pushed out straight, arms flung out to the sides and they literally lay back into thin air. Now that’s some kind of faith. And some of them can not do it. Can. Not. Do it. Every instinct in them tells them to grab the rope. But until they pass this test, they can not become a Ranger.

It’s a long story, but I’ve been suffering the stress of a broken family relationship that is the result of accumulated misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and unmitigated pride on both sides. This week I had had enough and made – and badly botched – an attempt to reconcile. I can honestly say that my motives in the moment were pure, my intentions were good and my hope was surrendered to God. But my approach was bad, and maybe my heart was (is?) still not fully broken over the rift. Facts I did not see in the moment, but only on the heels of doing further damage. In other words…I grabbed the rope…and as I hurtled to the ground I suffered a painful case of rope burn.

I’m still trying to figure out why God let’s us fall like that sometimes. Oh, I know there’s always a lesson to be learned and I can scrape one out of this mess too, but that doesn’t undo the damage I did. And the truly frustrating and confusing part to me is that I was prayerful throughout. I was careful with my words (I thought) and I was obedient (I thought) to a ministry of reconciliation. But God gave me hindsight that allowed me to see through the other person’s eyes…and it wasn’t pretty. Because they couldn’t see my heart. Or maybe they could and that was the problem. Anyway…I think ultimately what happened was that I lost faith that God “had” this problem and I decided it was time for me to do something rather than lay back and let Him lower me to the ground. And I paid for it. “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

You know, God doesn’t really need our help. At the end of the day, the truth is, what I just couldn’t stand any longer was the feeling of helplessness. It was so uncomfortable that I grabbed the rope and tried to do this thing myself! (Didn’t I just write something about being uncomfortable…and that being a GOOD thing?!) I just wanted to end it. I thought it was my responsibility to make things right. But maybe God was working it out in His way, in His time and all I had to do was push off and fling out my arms. But I grabbed the dad-gum rope. In Ranger speak, that would be a “no-go”.

So, here I am with wounded hands, smarting from a collision between the earth and my fanny, knowing that I likely can’t undo the damage I’ve done to an already expiring relationship and I find myself at the top of the cliff…again. Trusting God to work a miracle. Understanding that He…


...and yet, I still might grab the rope. But I hope not. ‘Cause there are consequences. And they’re painful. More painful than the temporary discomfort I’m enduring hanging here in mid-air, suspended by nothing but this red cord and my belaying buddy. If you’re here on the cliff-face with me, hear this (and remind me often!!)…Don’t touch the rope! Let go. Lay back. Trust God. And walk down the wall. Blind. Fearful. Vulnerable. Just walk down the wall. He’s got this thing.