Surrounded by adults, with mouths open, heads titled back, I stood and watched a 6-year-old celebrate his birthday by climbing to the top of a 60-foot rock wall.
This was not just any kid, but my oldest grandson.
I still am not sure what emotion flowing through me was the strongest. Was it pride at his achievement? Was it awe at his apparent skills? Was it fear that he might slip and be injured? Was it envy as I tried to imagine how wonderful that experience would be?
Or was it relief, that a safety rope, expertly tended by a trained climber, was attached securely to his harness? Maybe it was all of those and more!
What I do know is that this little boy seemed to be unaffected by the height, the unknown (having never climbed this wall before), or the apparent danger.
He simply moved one hand, and then one foot at a time. Sometimes he paused a little longer.
Sometimes he had to back up a bit to find a better, easier path forward. And he seemingly enjoyed every minute of the climb.
Even now as I reflect on that experience, I am struck by the similarities of his climb and walking by faith through life. While the path forward might be clear at times, there are options and choices to be made each step of the way.
Sometimes the path forward is easy, other times there seems to be no way to continue. More than once I have found myself having to back up so that I could more easily travel farther ahead.
And it might be just me, but my journey of faith has filled me with all sorts of emotions – excitement, fear, awe, confusion – and often at the same time!
But like the climbers on the wall facing the same internal swirl, those of us traveling by faith must continue moving. It really isn’t an option to try to stay in just one place.
The good news, though, is that we are not attempting this journey all on our own.
Not only are we encouraged and supported by others on the journey, we also have the assurance that God is with us – every step of the way.
And that makes all the difference in the world.
The belief that God is aware of our circumstances, that God hears us and promises to answer us, and the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God, allows us to fully enjoy this journey through life and all that it holds.
May it be true for you this day and every day.
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.