“I saw the Lord before me always, for with Him at my right hand nothing can shake me”
In a scene from an old Sylvester Stallone movie, a woman was trying to cross a chasm between two mountain escarpments, using a rope tied across the two sides. Halfway across, the carabiner clip suddenly gives way and she is thrown off the rope, dangling precariously with only one hand, 12,000 feet above the chasm. Stallone rushes across the rope and grabs on to her hand. Despite his desperate pleas for her to hang on, her hand gradually slips and she plummets down to certain death. The white of her terror-filled eyeballs were the last that we saw of her. This was from the movie ‘Cliffhanger’, back in 1993. Despite being almost 30 years since I saw this movie, this scene remains imprinted into my soul and my mind. It was a fictional moment of sheer terror and desperation that perhaps pointed to a reality that was too uncomfortably real.
When Mary Magdalene rushed to tell Peter and the apostles that she saw Jesus at the tomb, Peter did not react to say, “Oh yeah? Jesus is alive? The tomb was empty? You sure about that? Ok, no worries — we’ll mosey on down to have a look to see what this fuss is all about. But let’s do so after breakfast. Yeah, let’s have breakfast first”. No, they ran to the tomb. They were not exactly the youngest and fittest of men, but they ran for all they were worth. When Peter arrived, that he was winded and exhausted would be an understatement. He was probably having a minor cardiac arrest from the run. Their reaction was immediate and desperate.
Desperation is also something that often defines our own faith journey. In moments of debilitating illness, of joblessness, of mounting bills and ever lessening means to pay them, when children go down the paths of self-destruction, abandonment of their faith and moral indifference. When the powerful and those entrusted with public office betray our trust, usurp power for selfish purposes and moral apathy, when the helpless, the poor and the innocent become downtrodden, abused and betrayed. When the entire planet grinds to a halt because of a microscopic bug that refuses to die. All the countless “Where are you God?” moments, too many than we’d care to recall, pepper so many of our life experiences when we so desperately need God.
But cling on we must. Curse at God, swear at Him, throw something at Him. It is okay. God is big enough to deal with all that. His mercy for us is wide enough to embrace all the anger and frustration we can throw at Him. His love for us is deep enough to see not what we do to Him but the wounds, the sin and the brokenness within us that causes those actions. Cling on because that is what God wants us to do — to not give up on ourselves and on Him. If there is one word which defines the Christian faith journey, it is this — persevere!
So, cling on to God, even if only by your fingernails. Cling on in hope, in trust, in faith, in surrender, in courage, in obedience, in acceptance. To His plan and to His will. Easier said than done? You bet it is. It is not easy, but it is necessary. For if you stop, you will fall. And you will die.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us. Be our light when there is no light. When the enemy is full of strength, help me to remember and believe that you and I are stronger than the enemy. Help me to hang on to you.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for clinging on to us for all those times in our lives when we were no longer able to hang on to you. When we’ve lost ground and lost hope, help us to take the first steps again.