Letting go... abandon to God's will as an active undertaking

This idea of abandon to God's will as an active undertaking is a theme that I've meditated on quite a bit, especially recently: the paradox of being called to hand over everything in one's life to God, to abandon ourselves to his will and yet, at the same time, to have the dynamism, fire, energy and courage to engage in fresh undertakings, to take initiatives in his name, taking such risks in faith, banking on his Spirit to guide hearts and minds, hands and feet.

In this context I have been thinking a lot recently about St. Peter at the lakeside in Jn 21, sitting and talking with Jesus (the famous "Do you love me?" conversation). An image at the end of this dialogue never ceases to frighten and yet inspire me: when Jesus says to Peter

" 'I tell you solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.' In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, 'Follow me'." (Jn 21:18-19)

On the summit of the Pic d'Hourgade (3,000 metres altitude) in the Pyrénées with Bro. Henri (2004), after about 5 hours of hiking/climbing.

If you add to the idea expressed by Jesus that of being led by the belt along a narrow, craggy mountain ridge with a shear drop on either side and thick cloud preventing you from seeing more than a few feet ahead, you get the image the has come to me often in prayer these past few months. Why? Well, first of all this actually happened to me in the Alpes with Bro. Henri in 1992, though we weren't roped together. It was the most eerie experience of my whole life. We were at well over 3,000 metres, making our way along this rocky ridge for about 20 mins. till we reached a breach to the left. The cloud made it pretty treacherous, but what struck me most was the stillness... no birdsong, no wind, no noise except that of our feet on the rocks, our backpacks creaking on our backs, our hearts pounding in our ears.

My main fear was that of losing sight of Henri ahead of me and of being left alone... and I suppose that is the main reason why the experience has come back to me in the contaxt of reflecting on the passage in John 21. At least when there is a belt around you and you are being led, you can console yourself with the fact that you are following in Jesus' footsteps. You are on the right path and there is not too much chance of going wrong. But what if you no longer felt that belt around you and you couldn't see ahead of you to make sure that he was still there ahead of you? Options: stand still and panic, go your own way and risk falling over the edge, or keep your mind fixed on him in prayer, trust your spiritual instinct and keep on going. Abandon yourself to Him in trust and choose to keep walking/clambering. You may occasionally be granted a glimpse of Him ahead of you if the cloud breaks momentarily and this helps to calm your fears.

Well, that's just about where I'm at... on that ridge, no belt or rope, lots of cloud, a fear of heights... but the occasional glimpse of Him in the people and events of my daily life... and in the back of my mind the latent fear that I'll get things wrong and fall over the edge.

Coming down the Pic d'Hourgade with Henri ahead. The cloud started to come in, but it wasn't as bad as in 1992.

God is good!! :-) As I am writing this I am listening to a playlist of some recent favourite contemporary Christian songs. I stop writing whilst listening to "Safe + Sound" by MercyMe when I realise that the song is echoing what I am writing here...

"No more boarding up my windows,
So that I can lay low,
Nobody's home.
No more trying to run away from,
Tired of being afraid of
What I can't control.
The hardest part I'm always told
Is letting go.

Safe and sound knowing that You're big enough to
Wrap around my heart completely.
Safe and sound just knowing that You know me.

I can finally set my heart free,
Lost within the mystery
Of this love I've found.
There is nothing that can pull me 
From the hand that holds me
I'm safe and sound.
The hardest part I'm always told
Is letting go.

Safe and sound knowing that You're big enough to
Wrap around my heart completely.
Safe and sound just knowing that You know me
.

The greatest part now I know
Is letting go


Safe and sound knowing that You're big enough to
Wrap around my heart completely.
Safe and sound just knowing that You know me.
"

Yey!! There's an acoustic version of it up on YouTube which I'd love to share, so here it is.


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