This post is by Karina, a person who loves being outdoors almost as much as she loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This Easter season, as I tried to focus more on Jesus Christ, one vivid image repeatedly came to my mind. That image comes from an experience I had on a rock climbing trip of all places!
I was with two of my favorite people on the planet on a multi-pitch tower in the desert. (That means we did several climbs stacked on top of each other to reach the top.) The ascent took longer than we had expected and we reached the summit about sunset. We had repelled back down several pitches and had one last repel to go, when one end of our rope got caught high above us, and we were stuck. It was cold and dark, and we had no way to get down. The only solution was for one of us to haul themselves up one end of the rope to free the other end. So we decided on the lucky winner, and he started working his way up, gradually disappearing into the darkness. The two of us left could only wait.
As I hung there in my harness I saw an old piton sticking out of the rock. A piton is an old school way to protect a climb. Pitons look something like railroad ties or heavy-duty nails, with a little loop in the end. Climbers hammer these into rock faces, and then clip their rope to them as they climb, so if they fall, the rope will pull tight against that anchor and catch them before they sail off into oblivion. A piton for a climber can mean the difference between life and death.
I thought about that piton, and then I thought about other nails, in another time and place: the nails driven through the hands of the Savior of the world when he was hung on a cross. And I thought of what His Atonement does for me. How like a piton, He is a sure anchor, one that I can attach myself to as I make my way through life.
He doesn’t take away all risks. Falling from time to time is part of mortality. Sometimes our skills aren’t adequate for the task at hand, sometimes we fall as victims of circumstance. Sometimes our strength runs out or we just make stupid mistakes (or like me, lots of stupid mistakes.) But each time I’ve lost my footing or slipped off a hold, Jesus Christ has been there for me. It’s in knowing that He’s there that I find the confidence to continue climbing, to keep trying and serving and repenting and improving, knowing that if and when I do fall, He will catch me.
And so He gives me every opportunity to learn and grow, but has eliminated the prospect of me falling to my death. He is, literally, the difference between life and death. In fact, He makes all the difference between life eternal, and spiritual death. As I learn to rely on Him I feel my confidence and courage increase. I fully subscribe to the belief that following Christ will bring a “peace…and assurance forever.” -Isaiah 32:17