I’m feeling a bit like I did when I hiked Camelback Mountain in my much younger years in Phoenix. The Valley of the Sun has two mountains smack dab in the middle of endless suburbs and freeways. Camelback—so named because it looks like a camel resting on the ground—is the highest and steepest. I liked going up those steep, gravelly paths. My legs felt strong and solid beneath me. I liked the warm, hard feel of the boulders under my hands as I pulled myself up the steeper parts.
But going down was another matter. By then, my legs were rubber. I’d start out slow, pain-stakingly placing one foot in front of the other, slowing down to baby-steps when I felt a foot begin to slip. But I could only take that for so long. By the time I was two-thirds down, I’d begin to speed up and take chances. At some point along the way, with the end of my torture in sight, I’d start that downhill, rhythmic slip-slide jump-skip, picking out my foot placements seconds ahead before the next. Then, inevitably, came that moment of a familiar prayer tumbled out as one word: Oh-God-please-don’t-let-me-fall-and-if-I-do-don’t-let-it-hurt-too-bad.
And that's how I feel now. So, what am I to do? What would Jesus do? Ack. Did Jesus ever feel this way to begin with? After spending several months in Mark (whom I find brilliant in his ability to show Jesus so human, as this article also points out about half way down), I know Jesus got angry, frustrated, sad, tired. He was driven and passionate. And that night before he was killed, he must have battled with rising feelings of panic. Jesus knows how I feel (even if it wasn't the sins of over-comittment and laziness that got him there).
And then there's Peter. I think I’ll hug Peter first in heaven (after Jesus). He was often acting on impulse and getting in over his head (which is what got me here in the first place). Let me walk on water, Lord! Ooo, I know, let’s build a house for Moses and Elijah! Oh, my Lord, you shouldn’t say that stuff about dyin’! Me? I’ll never deny you! Me? I don’t know that man!
But then there’s the best side of that impulsive life, when God is so evident: Drop my nets and follow you? Just try and stop me. You? Why, you are the Messiah, my Lord! And later, in Acts, I can read over and over how this burly, reckless fisherman speaks words eloquently, boldly and full of the love and confidence of Jesus.
So, where does this leave me, in a pell-mell slip-slide towards summer vacation? Still hoping I make it without too much damage. Knowing that, like Jesus, I need to find a solitary spot and spend some time with my Father. Full of hope that even if I do slip, Jesus is there, just like he was for Peter. And gratefully confident that, like Peter, he’ll use me anyway.
(Image: Camelback Mountain taken by User:Postdlf)