Fear in the Mountains of Faith
“Don’t be afraid!” We shout the words to our novice climbers as we prepare to ascend the glacier. After all, what is there to be afraid of, other than rockfall, crevices, avalanche, altitude sickness, hypothermia, snowblindness, dehydration, and falling to your death because you took a careless step?
Of course, “don’t be afraid” isn’t a literal statement because there’s a healthy fear, that could perhaps instead be named, ‘deep respect for consequences of apathy’ in this setting. 80% of climbing accidents happen on the way down. My guess is that 80% of our falls from grace also happen on the way down, after we’ve been blessed, become comfortable, wealthy, even bored. We’ve ‘made it’ so what need is there for walking carefully anymore? That’s when it will happen – moral decay, ugly pride, a closed heart. Some of the falls are visible, some so hidden that even the victim is unaware.
Suddenly it makes sense that God says to us both, “Fear the Lord”, and “Do not be afraid.” I’m called to conquer debilitating fear through faith and obedience, stepping onto the mountain of my destiny in spite of the risks. But never, either on the way up or down, must I allow that walk to become casual because I think I’m beyond danger. It’s this blend of moving forward, and maintaining a fear of the consequences of complacency that enables Gideon, and Jeremiah, Job, and Paul to continue on their journey.
The mountains of faith are calling, and we’re afraid of what it will cost us. But be careful; to remain in base camp, singing hymns and talking about the mountain is the greatest loss of all – and thing we’re called to fear the most.