Rob Hileman is a former summer staff member and currently serves on the camp’s board of trustees. He is an elementary music teacher and youth minister at Bellevue Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York.
I’m not crazy about heights. There have been times when standing on a tall ladder or near the edge of a cliff has made me dizzy and short of breath. In spite of those experiences, I was excited about taking my youth group to a large high ropes course in the Adirondacks last fall. The course had several hours’ worth of challenges and zip-lines to conquer. To my surprise, many of the kids and adult volunteers in our group didn’t share my enthusiasm. When I announced the trip, most were willing to go and attempt the course, but some of them were anxious and fearful.
That day, as I watched both youth and adults anxiously struggling to move through the course, I had to wonder why my own response was so different. It occurred to me that despite the harnesses and cables attached to us, many members of our group did not trust this equipment. In contrast, I was certain I could not fall. My absolute confidence in the safety equipment made it possible for me to have a very different experience. Without a fear of falling, I was able to enjoy the challenges, the people, and the beautiful day.
I wish I could say I have trusted God in my life the same way I trusted my safety equipment that day. Instead I have faced many situations in much the same way my youth and volunteers faced the ropes course: focused on potential pain and loss. As a result of fear and anxiety, I have struggled through situations, made poor decisions, behaved badly, and learned very little. Even though I did not suffer any lasting harm in these situations, I wasn’t aware of God’s hold on me, and I missed out on the richness that would have come from living in reliance on him.
In a recent Bible study with some of my youth group guys, we learned about Abraham and his story. As we considered his responses to God’s promises we were impressed by his faith, but when we read his response to God’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac, we found it difficult to relate to him. How could anyone trust God that much? In order for God’s promises to be fulfilled, to become the father of many nations, Abraham must have known that Isaac was essential. Sacrificing him would seem to be the ultimate demise of God’s plan and promise. And as a father, I could not help but think this was too much to ask of anyone.
But then I remembered—it wasn’t more than God was willing to do himself.
In reading today’s Scripture passage, I was greatly moved by Paul’s words when he wrote, “He [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” Somehow Abraham must have been sure that God is the God of resurrection, and that no loss, no matter how great, is the end of the story.
I’m pretty sure that God will never test me like he tested Abraham. I hope I’ll never have to face any situation that has the potential for such loss or pain. I’m coming to realize that in comparison, my own challenges and trials are pretty insignificant. Nevertheless, I wonder how my daily life could be transformed by trusting God more completely, certain of his promises and confident that he will not let me fall.
Prayer: God, today may I remember that your ways are not my ways, and that your thoughts are higher than my own. In doing so, may my trust in you grow ever so slightly more.
For this year’s Lent devotions, the days follow the Common Lectionary texts. Each author was invited to: 1.Read the passage.
2.Read a couple passages before and after the assigned day.
3.Do something else for the day, keeping the passage in mind.
4.Find a word/phrase/concept that connects with your own experience. Reflect on that.
You are encouraged to do the same.