Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Cliff Hanging




Cliff Hanging

Originally uploaded by dream awakener

Do you ever feel like you are just like hanging off the cliff of life, where you are just kind of hanging on for dear life emotionally or spiritually or financially or in regards to major decisions that shape your future?

What do you tend to do when you are in this space? How do you tend to cope? How does your faith enable you to continue to hang on?

This is a picture that my nephew took of me in the summer of 2007 when I was traveling with my family to the Grand Canyon. It also, in some ways, illustrates how I have felt recently. Sometimes I feel like I’m hanging on the edge of a cliff. A life of faith often seems to lead to cliff hanging. And while cliff hanging has many difficulties associated with it, there is also some real beauty to be found, like in this picture. In the midst of hanging on a cliff I can see the majestic hand of God at work.


There are many things happening in my heart, mind and life these days, too many things to articulate and many things that are better suited to face to face conversations than to a blog. Many things that bring me great joy, energy and life. Yet there are other things that are painful, confusing and quite draining.

Of course, this is the nature of life. It is in these times that I remember some of Paul’s words, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participate in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” If you have a moment, please take some time to pray for some major decisions I need to make.

I trust you are enjoying the current series that I’m hosting with Wil Hernandez as he talks about Henri Nouwen and spiritual friendships, spiritual guidance, mentoring and spiritual direction. Nouwen is certainly one of my historical mentors in life. The conclusion of this series will be happening on Wednesday. And then there will be something else special happening.

I hope you will take some time to interact with this current series. Wil is a great person to interact with. So take some time to interact with him.


10 Responses to Cliff Hanging

  1. Sonja says:

    Jr,
    Thanks for explaining more of what’s going on with you. I already noticed you seemed completely off the hook for a while now.I’m sorry to hear you are hanging there. I hope you know that good conversations can even happen through writing some good friends or there are other ways if you are not able to always meet face to face or know how to write. I hope you have the courage to open up more and dare to take some risks even to connect with some of your soul friends and spiritual friends nearby and over the world.I guarantee that it will bless you as much as not even more…You wil actually find out that people care for you and like to become part of your life even in tough moments. When i felt hanging on the cliff both ways has blessed me.Don’t withhold yourself from ways He is able to draw near for the matters of the heart are most valuable…Another thing what helped me was to withdraw and spend some quality time in solitude and silence with my Maker. I hope you are able to find some
    rest, peace and guidance in the time ahead. My prayers are with you. Sonja

  2. JR Woodward says:

    Sonja,

    Thanks for your words of encouragement and prayers. Peace to you.

  3. esther says:

    JR –
    I will definitely keep you in my prayers. I can fully understand the hanging metaphor!

    I have not posted any thoughts on Wills series but i have been so enriched by them all! I have spent time journaling my thoughts and hearts responses to each post – its been great and practically very helpful. Thanks for giving him space to post on your site!

  4. JR Woodward says:

    Esther,

    Thanks for your prayers and understanding. I’m glad to hear that you are being enriched by Wil’s posts. It has been a real pleasure hosting his writings. I’ve actually enjoyed having multiple authors on the site and am thinking about how to make that a more regular reality on this blog.

  5. Eric says:

    Thanks for sharing where you’re at in life. Your post prompted me to pray for you, and I hope to continue doing so through this cliff-hanging phase of your life.

  6. JR Woodward says:

    Eric,

    Thanks brother. How are you doing my friend? How would you describe your current state, as I know you are working through a lot of transitions as well.

  7. Carlo says:

    Definitely know what you mean about the ‘painful, confusing and quite draining’ part as I’m going through that a fair bit myself too at the moment. I don’t know whether there’s a pat answer for these kinds of situations (in fact i’m sure there isn’t), and part of the problem is in the ‘not knowing’, so perhaps the best thing is just to not let go (even if your arms are shattered!), carry on doing what your doing, having faith that sometime not too far away you’ll be able to pop your head over the top and see what lies ahead. One or two understanding friends at this time can be a big help also.

  8. JR Woodward says:

    Carlo,

    Thank you for your empathy and thoughts. I appreciate it.

  9. Tita says:

    An oft-repeated story came into my mind when I saw your cliff hanging photo and after reading your story about it….of a man who fell unto the side of a cliff during a heavy fog. Hanging on to dear life via a protruding vine (or was it a root?)…he asked for God’s help, who answered back” LET GO”. The bewildered man shot back: “You said what??”. To which the voice above said: “JUST LET GO”. After a few seconds of stunned silence, the man cried out: “Is there anyone else up there??” 🙂

    Now another version of the same story ended this way: The man decided not to let go and instead held on to the root. After an hour passed, he felt his sore arms going limp. By this time, the fog has dissipated, and that’s when he finally realized he was hanging just a few inches above ground – there was a wide ledge beneath him.

    Funny but makes sense huh? Until now, I often find myself in similar situations (have short-term spiritual memory :-)….)

    I do wall-climbing, and I learned that in order to move up (or move on), I need to let go of the ‘grip’ I had been holding on to, to reach and grab on to the next handhold. Otherwise, I will be stuck in the same spot. It’s also essential to have a reliable somebody on the ground, holding and keeping your cable taut, to keep you steady in your ascent (this human anchor keeps me grounded as I go up).

    One of the most difficult lessons God keeps reminding me of is holding things/people loosely, and even letting go of my many preconceived notions or ideas about myself, my calling, my ministry – no matter how noble they may be. I noticed that I find myself in a prolonged hanging state whenever I procrastinate in letting go that which He has asked me to give up or pass on. Only when I loosen my grip – totally, in complete surrender (even at times not knowing why) that the fog dissipates and I get to leave the cliff.

    I don’t know what is your ‘cliff hanger situation’ but it’s encouraging to read you are able to keep a good perspective about it. Will be praying for you as you wait and discern His leading. Thanks for sharing…it’s comforting to be reminded that we are allowed to ‘hang on in a cliff’ for a purpose, but not needed to hang on a cross..because Somebody did already.

  10. Dustin says:

    JR, I can also empathize with you. It seems we’re in a state of flux these days. It’s quite a humbling thing when God wipes our future slate clean in a way that opens up new doors and opportunities. I will pray for you my friend. I hope that you’ll keep me posted on the pains of life so as not to bear it alone.

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