Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Keeping the Faith - Never Left Hanging (First Week of Advent)

ronniemcbrayer300 green2KENTUCKY (12/1/13) - There is a story told a hundred different ways but with the same punch line; it is about a man who falls off a cliff. He slips over the edge, careening and banging downward. Then, as if by miracle, his pants snag for just a millisecond on the skinniest of tree branches. He quickly grabs hold of it, and for the moment remains alive, though he is hanging thousands of feet above the ground.

He can’t climb up, and he can’t lower himself to the canyon floor below. Stuck as he is, with no one else to call upon, and powerless to save himself, he looks heavenward and prays: “Dear God! Please help me!” A thunderous but calming voice answers from heaven: “Do you trust Me, My beloved son?”

The man cries out in return, “Yes, God, I trust you! Please save me!” God answers, “Okay, just let go of the branch and I will catch you.” The man thinks about this offer and his situation for a moment, and looking at the jagged rocks below him, calls out: “Well…is there anyone else up there who can help me?”

Sometimes we want God to intervene. To help us, save us; to show up. His voice and presence, more often than not, are slow in arriving. But sometimes – on rare and unusual occasions – God does speak. He acts. He intervenes. He appears. And when he does, it often results in more trepidation than if he had held his tongue and remained elusive.

Think of Moses standing barefoot at the burning bush; Jacob in a surprise wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord; Saul, blind and blathering on the Damascus road. As Annie Dillard said of those of us who casually enter our church sanctuaries each week, “Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? We should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews…For the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.”

Advent, which begins this week, is no exception to this experience. It is the rule. God speaks – God arrives – and even though it is in the form of a helpless baby, the world is turned upside down. Shepherds quake. Angels sing. Mary trembles. Awe-inspired Magi bow in reverence. Joseph, a stunned carpenter, probably wonders if someone “else up there” could deliver him from the delivery of this child.

What was it all about? Faith, no doubt. All of these characters are asked to “leap” from their secure perches to land in God’s arms. They are all asked to believe that the baby, “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,” is indeed the Promised One of God, a uniquely born gift to the world. Are we not all asked to believe the same?

And this Advent season is about listening to the voice of God. I am very much aware that when one speaks of “hearing God’s voice,” it might be time to call the paddy wagon. Great lunacies have been committed by individuals convinced that they were on a divine mission. Some of these insanities have crossed over into atrocity.

But to hear God speak, deep within our hearts, is not necessarily a sign of mental illness. It can be; just like finding Jesus' image in a bag of cheese puffs or an icon of the Virgin Mary on the back of a piece of raisin toast at the Waffle House. It can be a manipulative way to dupe the spiritually naïve (or sell a pile of books just before the holiday season).

Yet, on those rare and unusual occasions, Annie Dillard is right: “The waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” Yes, Advent means that God has spoken and will continue to speak. It means that God has and will continue to intervene. And in the process, God will demand ruthless trust. But, he is trustworthy, and will never leave you hanging.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

button coupons
button classifieds

Most Read This Week

December 16, 2014 10944

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 17, 2014 7861

Elderly Couple Found Shot to Death in Muhlenberg

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 17, 2014 6860

Three Men Charged with Burglary

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 19, 2014 4728

Armstrong Mine to Layoff 39 by End of Day

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
December 19, 2014 4602

Dawson Springs Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Detective Sean McCance
December 18, 2014 4240

Cat Scratching over Dog Ownership Escalates

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
December 19, 2014 4135

Woman Flown to St. Mary's after Two-Car Collision

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 16, 2014 4131

Highway Crews Pre-Treating Roadways for Potential…

in Hopkins News by Keith Todd
December 16, 2014 3787

KFWC Proposes 2015-2016 Deer Season Dates and…

in General News For All Sites by Department of Fish and Wildlife
December 19, 2014 3501

Vehicle Fire Causes Traffic Back-Up on Pennyrile

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis

Stories Trending Today

December 20, 2014 1821

KET’s Kentucky Life Segment to Feature Old…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 21, 2014 1332

UK Family Doctor Gives Back, Stays Grounded…

in General News For All Sites by Allison Perry and Elizabeth Adams
December 21, 2014 1154

AG Conway Announces 2014 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe…

in General News For All Sites by Daniel Kemp
December 21, 2014 1128

Final 'Frozen' Performance Set for Tonight at LWC

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 22, 2014 1047

Earlington Church Toy Drive Blesses Community…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
December 21, 2014 956

Edumedics LLC to Expand Louisville Headquarters,…

in General News For All Sites by Office of the Governor
December 21, 2014 952

Follow Safe Sleep Recommendations for Infants

in General News For All Sites by Beth Fisher
December 21, 2014 922

NCM Motorsports Park to Break Ground on Kimberlee…

in General News For All Sites by National Corvette Museum
December 21, 2014 868

Legislator's Log - Week of Dec. 21, 2014

in General News For All Sites by Brent Yonts
December 21, 2014 843

Dave Says - Dec. 21, 2014

in General News For All Sites by Dave Ramsey

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss