“Lord! I’m afraid to take another step! Come and get me, my knees are wobbling and I’m getting vertigo!”
1 John 4:18— a verse that will no doubt be familiar to many of you, at least in part—says:
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
Fear does indeed involve torment, fear is torment. Often fear is what causes whatever it is you’re afraid of to come to pass. It becomes what we are focused on and it throws us off balance. Whatever you convince yourself is going to happen is often what happens. That’s why we need to learn to change our focus, to let perfect love become our guide, our focal point, leaving no room for fear.
Spoiler alert—that perfect love is Jesus.
The High Iron
As those of you who know me know, I work construction and have all my adult life in various forms. Whether moving dirt, welding, pounding nails or pouring concrete, I have always worked with my hands, and even though now I largely oversee that work as a project superintendent, I still like to get dirty and work with my tools when I can.
One of the things I don’t like is being way up in the air—unless I know I have something solid underneath of me or know that I have a safety harness on, which today is required by OSHA. When I started in this business safety was pretty lax and I was asked to do some pretty crazy dangerous stuff looking back—I think I kept my guardian angel on his toes, and even slipped thru his grasp a time or two, but I have survived—largely intact. (keyword being largely)
Still, you are not going to catch me walking any beams, harness or not, more than a couple of stories off the ground. I have jokingly said that one of the reasons I work in Montana is because we don’t have too many high rises.
My grandfather, on the other hand, was an iron worker who worked in big cities like Dallas and Minneapolis. He liked to walk the high iron, as they call it. I remember talking to him many years ago as he was recounting his work on a 60 story sky scraper in Minneapolis and he said he liked working up top because the foreman were afraid to go up there and everyone left you alone.
He told me something that has stuck with me throughout my whole construction career and although you are never going to catch me on an I beam 60 stories off the ground, it has come in handy many times as I have walked on top of a concrete foundation wall or the top of a framed wall, or even when stepping from stone to stone as I’m crossing a mountain creek for instance, and that is; “When you are walking the high iron, don’t look at your feet.”
You have to have faith in your feet. You have to trust that your feet are going to go where your eyes go.
Think about it, when you are walking anywhere else you are not looking at your feet, your eyes are ten or twenty feet in front of you mapping out your path, and your feet just follow.
When you stare straight down at your feet you get nervous, you lose your balance, because your world just became very small and out of proportion, and the next thing you know you are tipping over. Not to mention if you are looking down at your feet you are focused on the dangers below them instead of where you are going.
But if you have faith in your feet and just keep walking to where you need to go next, you’ll get there just as surely as if you were strolling down the sidewalk on a sunny day.
How are we doing? Are you keeping your eyes ahead, mindful of where you are going, or are you worrying about whether or not you are going to lose control and fall to your death?
Walking the walls, hopping the stones, or walking the high iron, it’s all about what’s going on in your head, it’s having faith in your ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other and staying upright.
You do it anywhere else! Why would you suddenly just tip over because you are over a dangerous spot?
The same is true in life, we have to have faith in our ability to keep moving forward.
We trust Jesus to be with us and get us through our days when things are going well, when we are just strolling along, going where we have been a hundred times without any overriding fear of falling. But when things get challenging, when we look down and realize that we are walking in places we haven’t been before, when it seems that we could easily fall to our death if we make one wrong move; and we panic—”Lord! I’m afraid to take another step! Come and get me, my knees are wobbling and I’m getting vertigo!”
And he says, “Child! Look up, keep your eyes on me and just keep walking, don’t look down and don’t look at your feet. I will lead you to where you need to go, but you must trust me, you must have faith in the feet I have given you for this day. I love you too much to let you fall for fear of moving—let my love overcome.