Belayers and Cams

Psalm 94:18 “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me” (NIV).

Observation: This Psalm embodies a plea from Israel’s oppressed for deliverance and protection. There are taskmasters who take pleasure in wrongdoing; the appeal of the weak is for God to be their protector.

Application: Specifically, Psalm 94:18 admits to slipping feet saved by God’s support. It is the simile of the rock climber on unsafe terrain, peering into the abyss as tired fingers cling to precarious handholds. Suddenly loose rock gives way under foot. At the very moment that destruction seems certain, the supporting rope tightens against the harness, preventing sure disaster.

The climber’s rope is his lifeline. When wielded by a belayer who has the climber’s best interests at heart, it provides a context of safety in which risk taking becomes more reasonable. Another critical piece of safety equipment is a cam, a kind of anchor driven into the cleft of a rock then expanded to wedge securely in place. It was just such a cam that the writer of Hebrews 6:19 had in mind, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Our hope, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

One other piece of rock-climbing equipment bears mentioning as a simile for a life lived in Christ: a hanger. Hangers are permanently bolted into the rock face, often by one who has already climbed the route and helpfully left his hangers for others to follow. A climber clips his rope into well-anchored hangers so if he falls, he won’t fall far. In this is an echo of 1 John 2:1, which says, “But if anybody does sin [fall], we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

So, who is God to me? He is my belayer, my friend who holds my rope secure. He is that welcome cleft in a rock where I can drive a cam down deep as a sure anchor in the storms of life. He is my hanger, bolted permanently to catch me if I fall. He lifts me and delivers me from all my enemies. When my foot is slipping, it is His everlasting, unchanging love that supports me. I can say with the psalmist, “When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Ps. 94:19).

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your strong arms able to rescue me from every trouble. Thank You for loving me with a love so strong that nothing can tear me from You.

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