Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When the Rope Won't Hold

When the Rope Won't Hold
By Brenda Black

There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery is to be suspended in a basket which is pulled to the top by several monks who heave and tug with all their strength.

Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket is terrifying. A daring tourist braved the trip one time and got exceedingly nervous about half-way up when he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was quite old and frayed.

With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope. The monk answered, "Whenever it breaks."

Are you at the end of your rope! Does it look like it won't hold much longer. Can you see the sharp, jagged rocks slicing away each thread of your trusty, once-solid cord. While you fret and grow increasingly hopeless, others seem serenely indifferent, like the monk in the basket. You're each experiencing risk, so what's the difference?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible...

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:1-3, 6-10)

A monastery on a cliff is not the destination. Beyond the highest apex, on the other side of lofty clouds, heaven waits for the faithful. It's a city not built by human hands and the in-road is not a bouncing, precarious basket ride dangling by a frayed rope. The way to heaven is certainly not easy and there are mountains and valleys and dangers. But the journey's route is well marked by the blood of a Savior who goes ahead and levels the path.

Our trials here drive us onward if we believe such a place exists. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The rope looks strong even if tattered because “what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

When times are filled with strife and sorrow, remember, we are beckoned to a reward -- the promised land -- a “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Our permanent dwelling is not in this world, but in the one to come.

When Noah saw rain, he built an ark and saved his family rather than sit on the bank sulking. Abraham had a home, but left it to live in a tent. He could have dug in his heels and ignored God's leading, but he would have sacrificed a great inheritance. In their trials, they tested righteous for their obedience and endurance. And most importantly, they were counted as heirs to the throne of heaven for their faith.

Don't lose faith. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything...Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Hang on! Heaven's coming!

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