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"Getting My 'Belay On'" - Crosswalk the Devotional - Oct. 14, 2011



October 14, 2011

Getting My “Belay On”
Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4, NIV

Recently I went indoor rock climbing with my friend.

I met Lindsey and her family early on a Saturday morning and was dressed appropriately. Not-too-snug pants? Check. Long-ish shirt that just about covered the bum? Check. No aversion to wearing rented-out climbing shoes that might be stinky and have been worn by hundreds, possibly thousands, of others? Check.

I was almost ready to rock and climb!

So then I stepped into the harness (like an airy, seatbelt-looking set of briefs). Next, I clipped myself to the belay device which was secured to the floor. And then my friend Lindsey took on the role of belayer while I was the climber.

“On belay?” I asked. “Belay on,” she replied, as I learned is the customary verbal safety exchange between climbers. And then I began my way up the wall, Spidey-style, with one toe in one tiny foothold at a time. It was pretty exhilarating, I must say. And from time to time I would pause to make sure I was making a good judgment call as to where to place which hand and where to wedge each toe. But should I have fallen, I knew that the rope (and the belay device) would have caught me . . . even if Lindsey wasn’t holding on to the rope or taking out the tension. I trusted that I would be held secure come what may.

Soon, I safely made it to the top of the wall, smacked the pole on the ceiling as a sign of “victory,” and indicated I was ready to come down. I let go of the wall, and tapped my toes lightly against the wall all the way as Lindsey gently let me down.

It was a great start. But then it was my turn to be on the ground and for Lindsey to climb. Suddenly I didn’t like all of the responsibility that I was about to take on. All of the instructions that she gave me started swimming around in my head. I even had the guidance of her sister (who had competed in rock climbing events for years!) right next to me. But I was still afraid that I might forget something or do something that would harm Lindsey while she was climbing up the wall. I didn’t trust myself or my lack of knowledge and expertise.

Once Lindsey was safely back down, and I had sweated a bucket, I quickly said, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that again.” And after we all had a good laugh, I proceeded to climb a few more walls before I said my goodbyes and left the gym.

Driving along on my way back home, I pondered what had made me feel so uneasy about being responsible for someone else . . . and why it had felt so much easier and freeing to climb when someone else had my back.  

And that was it. I realized that because there was someone else—someone who was an expert and knew better—who was holding on to the rope, watching my every move, ready to release or hold the lever at any given moment and shouting out words of encouragement or guidance to me, I was able to relax and just enjoy the thrill of the climb and concentrate on whatever step I was on or planning on taking next.

It seems so simple. Because it is.

Just like my relationship should be with God, because he has already promised that he will watch over me. And when I’m not in control, then I am free to follow his instruction. I am unencumbered by excess this, by fiddling with that, by worries, by fears, by wondering if I’ll ever be able to do everything correctly and make sure everything turns out “right” in my life. 

But thankfully as his child, God’s got my “belay on.” And he is all the protection I will ever need.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Who’s got your back in your life? Or rather, who’s got your “belay on”? Is it you? Or is it something or someone else? Bottom line, wherever you are putting your trust will tell you a lot. Ask God to help you let go and “climb” with freedom. If you are his, then he’s got your back and will always have your “belay on.”

Further Reading:’s “Who Is Jesus?” section – to learn more about freedom in Christ

"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (1887)

Words: Elisha A. Hoffman

Music: Anthony J. Showalter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

O how bright the path grows from day to day,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.



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