Saturday, October 25, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is spiritual." 2 Corinthians 4:18

There is a narrowing of the trail through the Collingwood Caves called "Fat Man's Misery". I remember very well the first time I went through. It was nerve wracking even then - some thirty years and at least thirty pounds ago. The rock walls of the large cavern come together to create a space so tight that hikers must literally squeeze themselves through the narrow opening to get to the other side. The rocks - cold, hard, and unyielding press in on either side. The natural instinct, strangely, is to push against them to help yourself through, but of course pushing against that massive limestone formation does absolutely no good. Those rocks ain't gonna move no matter how hard you try! The hiker's body has no choice but to conform to the only space provided in order to get through to the other side. The experience back then brought me to a suddenly more complete understanding of the phrase "between a rock and a hard place".

Sometimes the circumstances of our lives feel as though they are bearing down on us from every side and are just as cold and hard and unyielding at those rocks in the cave. The tougher it gets on the outside, the tighter the squeeze, the more our hearts are reavealed to us and we see where is the work God has still to do and what areas of our lives we have yet to yield.

I thank God for the path that at times becomes narrow, dark, cold, and unyielding. It is in those places of pressure from either side that we are faced with submitting to inner changes. In the wider places we can find ways to reason our way around things - avoiding responsibility is much easier - but it is the tight places, where the only choice is to retreat or press through, that the real work is done to conform us to the image of Christ.

Ranting and railing and pushing against those circumstances will not do any more good than my pushing against the rock walls of that cave. Turning back is certainly an option but not one you would want to take. Only by becoming meek and humble and pliable - like soft, wet clay - and submitting to the process will bring us through to the other side.

I'm grateful for the goodness of Shepherd who wisely leads us through dark and narrow valleys where we learn to rely on Him alone and where we learn to submit to the process of change - of being conformed to his image. The key is keeping our eyes on him and refusing to focus on rock and the hard place.

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. " Hebrews 12:2

3 comments:

Meg said...

Lovely writing full of truth..how well I know those places too. Bless ya, sista!

Joyful Fox said...

Susan,

Thanks for those beautiful words. God used your message today as one of encouragement to me. Living in my home with my 5 seems to be that rock and a hard place where God reveals all that needs changing. I'm constantly aware of my need and shortness of His righteousness. Perhaps I should be more grateful now and be thankful for this painful process. Sometimes escape seems so attractive.

Blessings.

Marilyn, writing from the kitchen on a busy Saturday said...

Thanks for writing this. It relates VERY directly to something going on here, but you could not have known. I love when that happens!

You've probably heard it said, "Some people age, others mature"...something like that. How can a person tell which one s/he's doing? I think one way is the response to tight squeeze moments/seasons.

There is real peace to be had in just 'going with it' until you are told to do otherwise. And that peace can be contagious for others making the journey with you.

On the verge of a ramble........so I'll sign off. Thanks, Susan (and others who commented - enjoyed it all).