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Without a Safety Net?

Have you ever had a nightmare where you were falling? Or do your palms get sweaty just thinking about it? To some degree, we all fear it.

Eugene Peterson, one of the most prolific students of the Bible in the past century, has given us an entire library full of beautiful images to help us understand God. As we think about God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness this week I was brought back to this vivid picture Peterson uses to describe our security in God.

Let’s read a few snippets from his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Sit with them for a few minutes.

We begin with Peterson painting a scene of what life with God is like, based loosely on Psalm 125:

“The emphasis of Psalm 125 is not on the precariousness of the Christian life but on its solidity. Living as a Christian is not walking a tightrope without a safety net high above a breathless crowd, many of whom would like nothing better than the morbid thrill of seeing you fall; it is sitting secure in a fortress.”

He goes on to help us unpack the battle between feeling and knowing:

“As we read that saw-toothed history [of the people of God in scripture], we realize something solid and steady: they are always God’s people. God is steadfastly with them, in mercy and judgment, insistently gracious. We get the feeling that everything is done in the sure, certain environment of the God who redeems his people. And as we learn that, we learn to live not by our feelings about God but by the facts of God.”

And then he wraps the chapter on security with this beautiful image of community:

“When mountain climbers are in dangerous terrain, on the face of a cliff or the slopes of a glacier, they rope themselves together. Sometimes one of them slips and falls – backslides. But not everyone falls at once, and so those who are still on their feet are able to keep the backslider from falling away completely. And of course, in any group of climbers there is a veteran climber in the lead, identified for us in the letter to the Hebrews as “Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in” (Heb. 12:2).

“Traveling in the way of faith and climbing the ascent to Christ may be difficult, but it is not worrisome. The weather may be adverse, but it is never fatal. We may slip and stumble and fall, but the rope will hold us.”

Thanks be to God!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Joel

Joel Searby

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