You feel it right now, maybe you’re there at this very moment: holding on by your fingertips to the edge of a cliff. You’re not sure how you strung out here, perhaps you misstepped and strayed from the narrow path. Whatever the reason, you’re too far down to be rescued, all of your “friends” forgot you were there and left. You shouldn’t have been walking that ledge to begin with. There you are: stranded, helpless, abandoned. What will you do?
Many times we find ourselves in situations we cannot escape. We’re hanging onto the edge of a cliff where all our mistakes and failures have left us. When we’re in that place of helplessness, we just want to fall on God and let Him save us. But, letting go isn’t the answer.
The Misconception of Safety
The ledge is a place where you are neither moving forward nor back. The ledge is a safe place. It is just wide enough so that you can’t fall off, and you can walk along it forever and not find an end. We hold a misconception of safety in compromise. When we can spare both sides a loss and appease all involved, we feel accomplished. But, the cross demands total surrender, and sin seeks total corruption. When we compromise, we only please ourselves; and then, only for a time. But, as long as we stay on the ledge, we can’t fall, right?
Sometimes we want to fall. We tire of our pretended security of the ledge, our compromise. In our minds, God will catch us if we fall. Surely He wouldn’t let us just fall and not save us! But God isn’t waiting at the bottom to catch us: sadly many lives have been broken and battered from the fall because they were trusting in a false perception of God. God isn’t at the bottom to catch you, He’s at the top to pull you up.
Two Kinds of Cliffs
- THE CLIFF OF DESPERATION:
When were on the cliff of desperation everything isn’t how it looks in the picture frame photos. No perfect family, no perfect life, job, marriage, education, or health. Life didn’t go according to plan, and it’s all God’s fault right? We had a foolproof plan! “Life In 10 Easy Steps”, but somewhere along the line it all messed up. We might be scavenging to get by until the next paycheck, or hunting for a job, struggling with health issues or addictions. We’re stranded on the cliff of desperation with no plans, dreams, or future goals that can get us out of this one. Our bodies and minds are weary and we despair.
- THE CLIFF OF DESOLATION:
Now, when you’re on the cliff of desolation it’s a different story. Your life may be in the same situation as the person on the cliff of desperation, but they have one thing you do not: hope. Hope can survive in the midst of despair but not in desolation. Desolation is utter misery, anguish, and emptiness. A person may despair of life and think to end it all, but a person in desolation has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Desolation is a spiritual ache for the void to be filled with something, yet nothing ever satisfies.
The Cliff is Not a Curse
First off, the cliff isn’t the mountain. The mountain is a constant upward incline, the cliff is a ledge with a drop-off. When we spend too much time on the ledge we get lazy and careless, that’s when we slip and find ourselves stuck on the edge of the cliff. But, God knows we are there. I’ve always thought despair was less of a heart problem and more of an eye problem. We despair when we can’t see a way out of our circumstances, or when we overlook the blessing in the midst of the burdens. We despair when we don’t see God moving, but were we seeking Him to begin with? If you don’t look for something the likelihood is that you won’t find it.
But, then there is the cliff of desolation. We are empty, yearning for the gnawing of our souls to be satisfied by something. God can fill your life, restore you from the depths of desolation and lift you onto firm ground to continue the upward climb, or perhaps, to begin it. When you’re out on a ledge, keep climbing; don’t stop and rest; don’t wait and lose sight of the path. The cliff isn’t a curse, it’s a warning.
As always, thanks for reading.
—the anonymous novelist