Letters from Theophilus

" A Blog About Practical Theology. "


The Cliff

Hello there! Excuse me. I don’t want to bother you, but I need to chat with you for second if that’s ok. I recognize something in your eyes… It’s myself I see there. I know that may sound weird, but just hear me out…

I see myself, as I used to be, dangling over a cliff. In my hands I have one hope. That hope is a string… a solitary string. That string is my salvation, suspending me above the certain death below… that string in my mind, represents my morality and good works. Now, maybe it’s the vertigo or confusion, but somehow I have forgotten what that string actually is. That string is NOT, in fact, my good works… That string is God’s grace. I have a thread of God-like-ness (Imago Dei, if you will) I’m still holding onto that yearns for goodness. Since all of me was created by God, even that thread of goodness comes from God and survives within me still, solely by God’s grace.

A while ago, on a day not unlike today, a hand suddenly appeared from the cliff above inviting me to life away from this dangling existence I’ve come to accept as my reality. I responded, “No, it’s ok. I’m just hanging out. I’m enjoying my string of good works! Life is swinging!” The voice called out to me again and offered me life above the cliff… a real life… salvation from the immanent destruction below. It spoke to my heart for some time and I listened intently.

The question I was left with in that moment was: “Will I grab the hand? Will I take the offer? Will I allow him to raise me to this ‘real life’…life above the cliff with the promise of true joy, and endless possibilities, or will I settle for this ‘lesser life’… this illusion that the string will hold forever… the belief that I’m held alive by my own goodness (not realizing the string is attached to the One above the cliff).

This is the reality of our choice. It’s not a real choice in the way we view choices… there is only one way out of this mess and that’s to take the hand of the One above the cliff. I’m speaking on His behalf today and offering you a way to this free life… freedom from brokenness and the path of self-destruction below. That hand has reached to all of us. We are not saved by our choice. We can never save ourselves. However, many choose to refuse the call. Many choose to cling to the string. Many choose to take their chances with the dangling life of the cliff.

See, I used to be one of the greatest cliffhangers! I reveled in that life, thoroughly enjoying all the things I thought were the greatest of pleasures. From the perspective I had at the time, that life was the life… But on the day I heard the call and took the hand and accepted the challenge of life above the cliff, my eyes were opened to a completely new reality! Everyday now, holds endless possibilities! Just as I once threw myself headlong into the swinging life at the end of that string, I have now raced across the endless horizons as fast as I can, exploring life above the cliff, and I’ve come back to tell you that the further I’ve gone, the more I have realized is up here! It’s amazing! Mountains and valleys and oceans and rivers… Untold adventures await! There are far more alluring cliffs up there than the one you now hang from. If you don’t believe me come see for yourself…

But I must warn you of one thing…

In my travels, I have experienced indescribable things, but nothing so unspeakable as the horror I am witnessing now. (I am sure you have seen it too!) I see hundreds of people, who have been pulled to safety from the wreckage below, camping out on the edge of the cliff. Some of them have even climbed back down and resumed their swinging life! Is it because they cannot handle freedom? Maybe they are afraid of letting go of the string? Have they failed to explore the beauty and endless possibilities of their new life? If they had only seen what I have seen they would be loving life… they would never want to return! But, they seem bound or addicted to life on the edge of the cliff. They seem listless and hopeless and miserable. Yet there they camp, still bound to the cliff either miserable that they can’t be hanging from its edge once more, or jumping back down with a false sense of security that that string of grace will hold forever.

Others, tempted to return and struggling deep within themselves, have built temporary walls and boundaries that keep them from even coming near the cliff. Some have built the walls so high that they can’t even see the cliff. They have even turned those walls into insulated houses that drown out the cries of those falling to their demise. Sometimes they insist that their way is the only way and say that this miserable existence (that is defined by what it’s not) is the only way anyone should ever live. I understand their need for temporary barriers, but if they could only take hold of the freedom in exploring this life of grace, the temptation to return to the cliff would lessen daily. Then they would see that the life they have chosen is not the abundant one that the voice promised. The worst part about it is they have no training or resistance built up to be able to return to the cliff and pull others up to safety, because they are so afraid of the cliffs’ power to allure. So thousands are plunging to their death daily, while these people sit safely behind their walls calling out from their place of safety hoping some cliff-hanger will, by some chance, hear their voice and climb up. How I wish they could be captured by a better vision!

But I cannot allow these things to preoccupy me…

I’m standing here now, hoping you’ll listen. I hope you’ll take my hand and climb up the cliff. I hope you’ll enjoy the horizons of grace that await you up here. The life that is truly life is only inches away. Don’t say ‘no’… take a chance! And when you get here, don’t content yourself with camping on the edge of the cliff, gazing lustfully back down at the beautiful destruction below. When you get here, don’t build legalistic barriers of protection that serve to bind you to a life defined by what you are not. Life is so much grander than the 30 feet of existence near the cliff. When you get here, allow that same voice to lead you into a life of adventure into the landscape beyond. Allow that adventure to take hold of you and give you a new identity and a new strength to walk the edge of the cliff from time to time following the call to rescue others. Embrace life in its fullness and I promise that you will always be grateful for this moment.

Are you ready?