I’m sitting on a rock in front of our destination – Rainbow Falls in the Smokey Mountains. Some of God’s most glorious beauty is before me. The atmosphere is clean as I breathe in the cold mountain air. My skin is lightly touched by the spray of the falls. And the roar of the waters join with the song of the birds and the rustling of the trees as a very light rain begins to fall.
My husband is doing his best to snap as many pictures as he can right before he slips, plunging his entire right foot into the icy cold water. He hardly gets upset! We are feeling so alive! And just beyond the fall I see soft, golden brown hair bouncing from between the trees. I hear child-like laughter as I glimpse two little heads bobbing up and down. My two daughters have made their ways past the falls and are now jumping from rock to rock, squealing with such delight. In one split second my heart transitions from pure rapture at the sights and sounds and smells around me to a biting sadness. I want to be with them! I don’t want to stay on this rock! I want to jump and laugh and not worry about falling. I want to cross the narrow log bridge without holding on to the rail. Why don’t I?
Why do I stay on this rock? The atmosphere is heavenly, but it was not created for me to simply gaze upon it. It was created for me to be a part of; for me to wedge my way into it becoming a participator of its splendor. It’s not a one dimensional picture book, but more of a pop-up. And I am to leap in it, to run and skip and laugh out loud. A rip-roaring, belly laugh! Why do I stay on this rock?!
I’ve concluded that it’s not because I broke my elbow when I was 7 years old, or because I was in a body cast when I was 8. It’s not because I broke my wrist when I was 19 either. It’s beyond the fear of physical endangerment. What is it then? Why do I stay seated on this rock?
I’ve resolved that it is decades of failures that keep me sitting here. Pounding in my heart are words spoken over the years that have caused me to question; and words held back that I desperately needed to hear. I’m planted here for fear of falling. I fear disappointing those I love most. What if I get up and run and leap and jump from mossy stone to mossy stone, laughing and roaring about and then suddenly fall. Will my daughters see that Mommy isn’t strong? Will they begin to view me as foolish? I am paralyzed, unable to move from this rock because of a lifetime of being told how I should behave and having pointed out to me what might be deemed ridiculous, unnecessary, and unacceptable.
In my paralysis my mind flashes forward to the next 60 to 70 years. I’ve so much life left in me. There are so many places for me to go. There is laid before me the gift of a stunning adventure. If I give these words and thoughts and fears permission to have their way I will find myself for the rest of my life gazing upon a one-dimensional picture book.
I’m reminded of what the Psalmist and King said in Psalms 27:13 and I become “confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.” A twinge of fight rises up in me. I don’t want to just see it. I want to participate with it! With fear and trepidation I determine, with a quivering heart, to Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, to press on, even with shaky hands and wobbly knees toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. With slight hesitancy and increasing determination I reconcile to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run, not tiptoe, but run and leap and jump with perseverance the race marked out for me.
Finally, I leave my rock to head back down the mountain. The rain is falling a little heavier. I cross the log bridge; this time hands-free. And up ahead I see the sweetest little head bobbing from rock to rock and I hear her angelic voice say, “Bounce with me, Mommy.”
Deep breathe. Release. Here I go.