Have you heard the story of the man who when walking along a steep cliff accidentally got too close to the edge and fell? On the way down he grabbed a branch that temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He couldn't hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up, so he began yelling for help hoping that someone by would hear him and lower a rope or something.
When he was about to give up, he heard a voice asking if he was still all right. The man said he was and asked, "Yes, but . . . Who are you, and where are you?" The voice answered, "I am the Lord. I'm everywhere." The man was relieved and said, "God, please help me! I promise if You'll get me down from here, I'll stop sinning. I'll be a really good person. I'll serve You for the rest of my life." To which the Lord simply said, "Easy on the promises. Let's just get you down from there; then we can talk. All I want you to do is to let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go." There was a long silence until the man finally yelled, "HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?"
The first time I saw this story it was in a comic strip – it made me smile because I understood all too well the truth it was telling. We are glad to trust the Lord on our terms. We are happy to do good works to repay him for the kindness he has shown us – again on our terms. But when we are asked to step out in faith, to let go of the things that we are holding onto, the things that give us security, we are hesitant. Have you ever felt like that? It is only by resting in the promises of the Lord that we can let go.
The promise of the gospel enables us to let go of our works of righteousness and rest in the finished work of Christ to save us. While the words seem simple, when it comes to that point of decision, to let go of our own worthiness in order to trust squarely in the promises of God, we can find ourselves looking for a different way. We desire a way that glorifies ourselves rather than trusting in God’s faithfulness.
Paul testifies of this in Romans 4 where he asks us to consider the example of Abraham. You will remember the story from Genesis 12. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (1-3)
All that Abram needed to do was to leave everything (family, home, income source) and trust in the promise of the Lord. Let go! Just trust me!
To this Paul says, “If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” (Romans 4:2-5)
Where the man hanging on the cliff wanted the Lord’s help on his own terms, Abram trusted God on HIS terms. Paul says that having done so, “God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” How about you? What are you trusting in? Maybe you find yourself less like Abram and more like those in Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’”
Are you desiring rest for your soul? The Lord’s way promises rest to those who trust and believe. What’s keeping you? Just let go!