Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gravity, Depravity and the Theology of Rock Climbing

(A piece I wrote many years ago before I ever blogged, that came to mind last night)

What does God say when He looks at You?

I’ve been asking this question to a lot of people recently and getting a good variety of answers, everything from “D- could do better!” to “Nothing at all; He just laughs!”. Many people who have a grasp of theology respond with “I am accepted, forgiven and loved”. The problem is theology has a curious habit of getting stuck in our brain cells and refusing to filter down to our hearts where we need it the most. This means although we believe that God accepts us totally as we are we still run around like eager young puppies desperately trying to please our Master.

Some years ago I made a trip to New Mexico and stayed at a camp that boasted many great features such as a ropes course, rappelling tower, and horse riding. Late on the Saturday night I was attempting one of the most devilish devices known to man and woman kind- an indoor climbing wall about 20 ft high. Basically the wall had various rocks sticking out of it all placed at distances slightly wider than I could reach and slightly sharper than I could grasp. The chosen victim straps themselves into a tight safety harness and then attempts to climb this miniature Mount Everest secure in the knowledge that the rope and harness will catch them if (or in my case when) they fall.

Well on my first attempt I didn’t quite make it to the top rock which you have to touch to show you are successful, but I must confess there was a certain amount of macabre fun in the act of hauling my body upwards. Watching everyone else ascend the wall with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gecko had a rather bruising affect on my ego however. By my fifth attempt any semblance of pleasure in the climb was totally lost in the frustration of trying to hit that ******* top rock.

At each attempt I got angrier, especially as gravity seemed to be getting stronger because the distance of my ascent lessened each time. By the seventh attempt my hands were sore; my forearms ached and I had scratched my thigh on one of the rocks. After my eighth and final failure I wandered off disconsolably into the night and it was then that God started speaking and I started listening. The conversation went something like this:

So Peter are you satisfied now that you’ve hurt and exhausted yourself?

I was only trying to hit that top rock God.

Yes, you’ve been trying to reach that rock for the last two months now.

I only got here yesterday, are you getting me confused with somebody else?

I’m God, I don’t get confused!


Christianity is about living life to the full, does that describe your last two months?...............Well does it?

Not really.

Well what’s gone wrong?

I’ve just been trying to sort out a number of problems in my life, there’s nothing wrong with that is there?

No, but you’re obsessed with all your problems that you can’t deal with, sorting them out has become your ‘Top Rock’.

I don’t understand, what do you mean?

Look up, what do you see?

Lots of bright stars.

Why don’t you say lots of darkness? There’s far more night up there than stars.

Yes, but my eyes are naturally drawn to the light.

Learn to look at yourself in the same way, see the ‘light’ that is within you rather than on focusing on all the darkness. The first time you scaled the wall the fun was in the climb, hitting the top rock didn’t really matter at all.

Yes, but after a while I didn’t care about climbing, it was ‘top rock’ or nothing.
It’s stupid really because it doesn’t really matter whether I hit that rock or not just as long as I’m having fun.

Exactly! And in the same way you can’t sort your own problems out so quit worrying about them as I’ll deal with those issues when the time is right.

P.S. ******* stands for ‘blasted’

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