Friday, March 23, 2012

Rock Climbing - A Lenten Meditation

"Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge,a strong tower against the foe." ~ Psalm 61:1-3, NIV

We have studied before that the season of Lent is an imitation of Jesus' 40 days of wilderness time after his baptism by his cousin, John.  During that time, He was put to the test in every way.  And that time prepared Him, toughened Him and strengthened Him for living out the mission He was to carry out here on Earth. 

Too many times as parents of children with special needs, we find ourselves in that wilderness time, tried relentlessly in every way.  Our paths are rocky, not smooth.  Things that should be simple are hard work.  Travel from point A to point B may include lugging a wheelchair or other equipment, praying that some thoughtless individual isn't parked in the handicapped spot at our destination.  School, which is typically identified with more joyful landmarks than frustrations, may be a constant battle with staff, other unkind students or a lack of viable strategies.  Dates and vacations?  What are those?

While we may be able to accept that this is what our "normal" looks like, the crushing weight of all of these trials can be wearying.  It is difficult to stay positive, focusing our glance towards heaven, and setting a guard over our behavior when we are facing such cruelty in this life.  We want something positive to come out of our challenges, but often that's easier said than done.

This is where I find my mind reflecting on rock climbing.  As I have grown in my faith over the years, I have found that our amazing God is a God of details.  Nothing is coincidental in God's economy, and that even includes something as clunky as rocks!

Let me first note the difficult parts of rocks.  They are not smooth.  They are tough to climb and often shift under our feet.  They can certainly hurt us.  And in fact, you may be interested to learn that the "Gethsemane" represented in the name of the Garden of Olives where Jesus spent His last night on earth in prayer, is a heavy stone that crushed and pressed olives to squeeze the valuable oil out of the fruit.  How often we can identify with that heaviness!  Sadly, since it had such economic value, only the most affluent in town could own such a significant rock.

While they often represent difficulty, rocks also represent something profoundly useful.  They themselves are produced from the pressure of the earth forced against itself.  They can be polished into beautiful stones.  Their weight can result in something good.  In Scripture, rock formations or caves were a place of safety and shelter.  Furthermore, the oil produced by the Gethsemane stone was used from everything to cleansing, to personal healing, and to offering light in the darkness.

When we are willing to climb those rocks that appear to be a Gethsemane, something transformative happens in us.  We make real our desire to get closer to our God.  We are raised up by the very thing that should have been a stumbling block for us.  Our trials are put under foot and dominated by the Creator of the Universe, rather than dominating us and removing our joy in life.  That certainly makes us look different to a world that is fixated only upon the ugliness of rocks.

During the remainder of our days in Lent, let us lift our prayers to Heaven, asking to respond to life's boulders in the obedient, selfless, God-glorifying way that our Savior Jesus did.  This is the very thing that makes Christianity a worthy surrender -- A Lord who can make something breathtakingly beautiful and immeasurably useful out of life's dirt!

Pray:  Lord, lift me to that higher ground!  Help me to remember that by Your power, I am set above my troubles.  Bring me through this Lent looking better than when I entered into it!  

*Please check out a FAVORITE resource of this ministry to go with today's post, THE BUMPS ARE WHAT YOU CLIMB ON by Warren Wiersbe

~ Barb Dittrich

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Parb.

    Some of us, as parents of children with special needs, face boulders much more difficult to conquer in this life. The work is harder and consumes much more energy. We work so hard to glorify God and we stumble. We know He is there so we carry on, doing our best because He walks with us - sometimes carries us to that higher ground.

    God bless you as you conquer this boulder with your son. So many are praying for you...