Few of us find ourselves in positions where we do not have at least a perception of situational control. When we find ourselves in a tight spot, our inherent tendency is to try to solve the situation ourselves, and then turn to God when we are exhausted. We talk a lot about faith – it is the first “F”, after all. But when we talk about “having faith” or “acting in faith” in church or at a Bible study, it can be difficult to understand exactly what that looks like in practice.
Unless you are a rock climber. If you have ever strapped yourself to a rope and climbed a sheer wall, you know how much of a difference that rope makes, even if you never take a fall on it. But only if you trust it. Most people need to fall on the rope a time or two to build trust in their harness, rope, and belayer. But once that faith is there, you can climb routes that look impossible. You can stretch and challenge yourself, push to and beyond your limits, because you trust the rope.
I was only able to make the last two days of the trip to Smith Rock, but the inarguable highpoint of the week (pun intended) was the ascent of Monkey Face, a 300 foot, multipitch spire. And I can assure you that nothing tests your faith in your gear like dangling on the end of a rope 150 feet above the ground. The crux of the “easy” route up Monkey Face is an overhung egress from a notch at the beginning of the third pitch. I had the displeasure of climbing through this point about 15 minutes after sundown. But I was able to climb it because I trusted the rope. (The deepening darkness was good motivation, too.) The six of us topped out in the dark, so there is no group picture on top, unfortunately. But F5 can make a perhaps unique claim to a nighttime rappel off Monkey Face.
There was of course much else to write about, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. But I would encourage you, when you find yourself in a desperate situation and hanging on for dear life, perhaps on a rock face but especially when the solid ground your life was built on has suddenly disappeared beneath your feet, remember that God has you on belay. And if you don’t know what that means, come on the next climbing trip.