Part 3 - Work in Progress
When I was a baby Christian, there was a song that was very popular on Christian radio. It was called “He´s still working on me”. I claimed that song as my very own. Even now, years later I will catch myself humming it. What a reminder it is to me that God is patient and loving and compassionate with his rebellious, wayward, stubborn child! I praise His name that He is. Anyone else would have thrown up his hands long ago and walked away. Not God. He is so good.
God has known me from throughout eternity past, right up to the present, and on into eternity future. He has always had a plan for me. Even when I was only His creation, and not yet His child, He protected me and shielded me. He was working on me, preparing me, teaching me.
I remember one of those times very clearly. In fact, just thinking about it sets my heart to pounding and brings me the cold rush of a chill up my spine. I was 20 years old. Some friends and I were on spring break. We headed for the Ozarks to do some camping and rock climbing. Do you remember one of the songs in “Sound of Music”? The one that goes “Climb every mountain.”? Well, even though my mother assured me that Julie Andrews was no singing about physical mountains, I claimed that as my goal in life. To literally climb every mountain.
We had camped at the base of a cliff the night before, ready for climbing and later repelling off the face the next day. We had spent time checking harnesses and ropes and other equipment because we taught rock climbing to kids and were in the habit of being careful. All our equipment was in great shape. The cliff was not a particularly hard climb. There were plenty of hand and toe holds on the way up. Of course, the real joy was repelling down the face once we reached the top. The cliff was just alittle over 100 feet in height. The climb up went well and without event. My friend was going to belay for me as I repelled down to the boulder strewn base. I stepped off into space with a rush of adrenaline, feeling like this was as close as you could get to truly flying. I had hopped down only about 10 feet when I noticed an interesting shaped rock lying on a narrow ledge. I paused, picked it off the ledge, and shoved it into my pocket. I glanced down between my legs at the nearly 90 foot drop. Looking up, I waved at my friends, flexed my knees and kicked off into space. I remember kicking off twice more in rather short hops, and then kicking way out. The rope stretched out, went taunt and snapped. I actually hear it pop. I was still some 35 to 40 feet off the ground. For a moment it was as though time had stopped except for the broken end of the rope snaking by me as it plunged toward earth, and suddenly I was following it down. I didn´t scream. I didn´t do anything. I hit the ground flat on my back, spead eagle, on the only patch of grass in that boulder field. There were boulders within inches of my head and even one between my legs. I remember blinking up at the bright blue sky and wondering if I was in heaven. Then I realized someone was screaming. It was one of my friends up on the cliff. I laid there for several seconds and I remember thinking that God must really care about me. I knew there was absolutely no reason why I should be alive, but I was. Not only alive, but unhurt. I learned later that one of my friends actually fainted dead away when I got to my feet. Other than having the breath knocked out of me, there was not a scratch or a bruise on me. As I glanced around me at all the rocks and my little patch of grass where I had landed, I told God that I had climbed my last physical mountain. It is a promise I have kept to this day. But I have done a lot of mountain climbing for Him. Spiritual mountains. I still have many more to go.
God had a task for me. He preserved my life long before I became one of His children. He waited patiently for me, and He is still patiently working on me. Serving Him has been the greatest joy of my life. Knowing how much He loves this rebellious, stubborn, wayward child of His is what gives me the strength and courage to face each new mountain, knowing His hand is leading and guiding me every step of the way. Knowing that with Him by my side I have nothing to fear. Knowing there is nothing that can touch me or harm me that is not in His will. I know that like Job I can honestly say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” Job 13:15