I did it! I did! I conquered one of my greatest fears and it was all worth it. Now, I have some understandable fears, like being on a rickety ladder and also being on precarious ledges high up. That’s just who I am. Not many people would say that’s crazy.
I also have a strong fear of anything that buzzes and has a stinger. I usually runaway in a manly yelp. Yet when I went down the accidental-right-turn-trail, I walked by a large number of wasps and bees. I was quite proud actually. It wasn’t until the next day that I began to have the same fear. I had a wasp come up to my window, maybe asking for directions, I’m not sure. My first impulse was to lock the doors. I had to repeat to myself that wasps don’t have thumbs.
Back to the climb. I went down the Notch Trail. I was told that it was a nice walk. I was also told that I would come to a ladder I would need to climb. I figured that it’d be a short climb up the rocks and then I’d see a nice view. When I got to the ladder, it was about a gagillion stories high up a sheer cliff (okay, more like three stories, but still). I looked up and saw people walking a trail along the cliff face.
I knew at that moment I had to make a decision: Allow my fear to take over and walk away (and no one would have questioned this decision) or climb the ladder. If I climbed the ladder, I was committed to the rest of the hike. If I went up, I’d have to come down. I silently prayed and began the climb. As I reached the top, I looked around and was amazed. I did it! And then I saw the trail ahead of me. Along the cliff face was a trail roughly three feet wide with a three story drop that I had just climbed. I began to mutter to myself “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” and “He will not let you be tested beyond what you can bear.” over and over again until I had walked the ledge and came to a firmer area that was spread out.
I continued hiking up the trail. Soon I came to a stake in the ground. Arrows were pointing to the right. The path was broad and open, nothing hindering the rest of my hike on the trail. I knew that the trail to the right would be the view I was promised. And I was pretty sure it was a good view. But I then looked to the left, at the trail less traveled. It was narrow and looked a bit daunting. I knew that if I went up that way, it’d be unsafe, untamed, dangerous but well worth it. And so I went left.
The rocks were slippery. I had to finagle my ankles and knees in ways that I hadn’t done since my 20’s (I mean hiking, man what a mind you have). I slowly made the climb. The wind blew hard. I breathed in the air. I stood still for a moment, my hand on porous rock thousands of years old. The wind in my hair and ears whirled around me. In that moment, I realized it was the Ruach Eloim, The Spirit of God, the Breathe of God, the Wind of God. The same Ruach Eloim that had hovered over the earth when God took it from being formless and void and turned it into this. I stood still. The Spirit was truly present with me. I felt fear, tremendous fear, but I knew I was safe and secure. I began to sing “This is My Father’s World.” In child like faith, I stepped forward.
I continued to climb, adjusting my balance, each step climbing further knowing that what lie ahead would be the greatest view I would ever see in my life. And then, I came to a small outcropping. Two pillars side by side, like the feet of the destroyed Colossus at the gates of Rhodes, standing as the guardian of an ancient and sacred place. I walked slowly with ginger hesitation. Not knowing what I’d see but knowing it at the same time.
As I leaned over the edge, my breathe was taken away as the wind whipped around me.I knew I couldn’t stay for long. It was glorious and beautiful. I felt like Moses when he saw God pass by. I knew that it was awesome but also untamed. To linger too long would be life threatening. My Bears hat almost blew off, as did my glasses. I placed both in my back pack and descended from the view.
I was too focused on what I had seen, that I didn’t fully keep my eye out on what was in front of me. What I saw was glorious, but I should have been seeing where I was walking. I had seen God’s handy work, his Artist’s touch upon the earth, but I also had to continue down the path I was to go. As I walked, I slipped on loose rocks. I tried to let myself fall, to kick my legs out from underneath me and to cushion myself. My right leg did just that, my left leg didn’t get the memo.
As I lie there, cursing myself and my stupidity, I knew I once again had two choices. Admit defeat, hope I had a signal and try to call for help, or to cowboy up and hobble back the way I came, knowing full well the path laid out for me.
I stood up, and breathed in slowly against the pain. “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” I once again muttered to myself. I began the decent. This time I paid attention to where I was going. I knew with assurance that Jesus himself held my hand and walked me through the rocky path. I soon came from the path least taken and decided to compare it to the path laid out for everyone else. I hobbled over to it and looked out.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice view. But after having my face whipped by the wind, looking over the precarious ledge, I saw the difference between the two and was happier with the other.
And so I hobbled down the trail. The way back not as scary as the way there. I met others along the trail. They asked me how the view was. I said it was nice. But if they turned left instead of right, went up the narrow trail, the dangerous trail, they’d see a view even greater. It was dangerous but worth it. I looked back as they turned right down the broad trail. Not everyone was ready for the view I had seen. Not everyone will see that view because they didn’t want to run the chance of injury, danger and trusting in God.
What path will you take? The one least taken with danger, peril and chance of injury but a reward beyond imagination or the trail taken and laid out and the view so so? Which one, the narrow path or the broad one?