Back in the day, I was a proficient 5.10 rock climber and an occasional 5.11. One day, my good friend and I, went to my favorite climbing spot, Crowders Mountain outside Charlotte, NC. Desiring a “cool” picture for my desk, I decided to climb without the aid of a safety rope. After all, the pitch was something a child could climb, a 5.4, and I only had a few feet of 5.11 at the top to create an awesome print. I informed my friend to take the picture when I was hanging by one hand and my other hand was in my chalk bag. Everything was going as planned until I reached my left hand into the bag. That’s when the unexpected happened—the rock broke.
In the picture, you can see the rock in my right hand and my body instinctively moving into a defensive stance, preparing for impact. I recall thinking, “Well, this is it” as I faced a 150’ fall to my death. As my body picked up speed, my right knee and left forearm struck a small knife-edge rock formation. That edge strike shoved my body up the mountain instead of backwards as I would have expected. I then fell another ten feet into a tiny crevice, onto my hip and head. As I regained consciousness, my friend rushed to my side and off to the emergency room we went for some exhilaratingly fun pressure burst wound scrubbing and many stitches.
I knew the risks of ignoring the safety line. I had fallen dozens of times and felt that beautiful feeling as the rope tightens and the harness cinches around my legs and hips. “Alright, lower me down” I would yell to the bilayer, only to attempt the route again. But this time was different. This time I’d tried something for the first time; I went without a firm anchor point, I went on my own strength, and I miscalculated the strength of the rock.
I wonder how many of my friends and family who rightly mocked my poor decision to go without a safety line, miss the fact that they are doing something far more foolish. That is, while what I did had immediate physical ramifications, theirs has eternal consequences. They have chosen to put their trust in the fragile world that is clearly broken. The rocks they grab continually crumble and turn to dust before their eyes, yet they repeat the process believing that the next rock will hold their weight. Or the one they are forever grasping after will be the firm anchor point they need.
The truth is there is only one unmovable Rock. There is only one unbreakable Anchor who has not budged despite the incessant pounding of atheists, agnostics, and haters of righteousness. We are all climbing the rock face of life; some are on 5.4 while others are at 5.14+ pitches. Eventually, everyone will fall. The only difference is some will have that Safety Line, while others will have chosen to trust the brittle rock.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2