Don’t look down!

It’s not that I don’t like heights, they just scare me. I love the mountains and as a child I used to scramble the cliffs at Clevedon. But I don’t enjoy getting up there.

So when friends who are staying with us suggested climbing the Grey Mare’s Tail, I was rather apprehensive. “This spectacular 200 ft. waterfall sits in a dramatic moorland setting below White Coomb”, not far from Moffat. A path ascends the adjacent hill, zig-zagging the shoulder, then climbing steadily along the side of the hill. It crosses several open gullies, some running with water and others full of loose rock. In several places the hillside bulges slightly and the path becomes very narrow. At all times there is a steep drop on the left to the river below.

Having failed in the past to climb similar paths, and in view of the families with young children on the hill yesterday, I was determined to make this climb. Setting off up the lower slopes, paved and stepped with local rocks, I sang to myself “Jesus is the rock, He’s the rock of my salvation, and he rolled my troubles away.” I discovered that if I kept my eyes on the path, and didn’t look down at the drop or up at the heights I was fine.

This is the same lesson Peter learned in a different context. Jesus called him out of the safety of the boat on a stormy sea. Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, focused on where he was going. But as soon as he looked around at the waves and felt the wind he began to sink (Matt 14:28-30).

Above the main waterfall is a narrow valley with rapids and two smaller waterfalls. Further upstream the river winds between gentle hills. At each crest or turn you think you’ve reached your destination only to see another hill! But eventually you find a small fall between two rocky outcrops, and you discover a beautifully still loch. That too is a picture of life with it’s unexpected twists and turns. Only by carefully following the path set by Jesus do we arrive safely at the destination God has planned.

After swigging a quick drink and nibbling a chocolate biscuit, we beat a hasty retreat from the midges. About an hour later we stood safely on firm ground of the car park, knees wobbly from the exertion, but delighted to have passed the test and witnessed another aspect of the beauty of God’s creation.

[Edited 17-Aug-2008 for grammatical errors and to add links]

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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