Dick Hunt's Blog

February 2, 2010

800 Feet Down ; 800 Feet Up.

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 10:26 am

800 Feet Down ; 800 Feet Up

by Dick Hunt, January 31st, 2010
People often talk about  their ups and downs.  While talking to and listening to friends this afternoon, I was reminded of a pleasure that Ruth and I enjoyed about a dozen years ago while on a winter vacation in the South Western States. Friends told us that  we should visit  Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.  Being in Arizona, we travelled through northern  Texas and  then north into New Mexico.   Arriving late, we stayed in a R.V. park for the night.  The next Morning we drove over to the Caverns parking area and checked in.  We were informed that  the very impressive natural entrance , shaped like a huge bandshell, led not  only to the caverns 800 feet below the top of the hill, but also to the home of millions of Bats, all clinging to the ceiling just  beyond where we were standing.  The Biologists said the adult bats flew out of the cave each evening at dark in search of food and flew an estimated 150 miles or more consuming flying insects before they returned at dawn.  In the midst  of their teeming numbers of “infants” still clinging to the roof of the cave, they were able to  go straight to their own young and feed them before settling down to sleep for the day.  How awesome this natural world is and how little we really understand of God’s wisdom and power in creation.
We followed the well marked and lighted paved trail down the long, magnificent way with the ever increasing beauty and color of the cave, with guard rails where necessary for safety and instructions to tell us what to look for and what could be known of the process which had formed such moving results. With little imagination, it was simple to detect what seemed to be statues of people or animals or whatever came into our minds , with names afixed to stir our minds with increasing wonder.  Finally we reached the bottom, which opened out to a huge room, quite level, very colorful, with stalagmites (rising from the floor of the cave and stalactites (reaching down from the roof of a cave) with the two  sometimes coming together and formed of calcites.
I am reminded of our walk through life. There are so many amazing and beautiful scenes in our life.  There are prepared ways for us to go,  wonderful things for us to do and to see.  There is  enough new life just ahead of us to keep us interested. There is our developing mind to absorb what is good.  And the negative is that  there is just enough stimulus in destructive  directions to get  us off track.  When we were going down that paved and well marked path into the cave, we walked a lot farther than just 8oo feet. But the railings and the danger signs kept us safe. In many places we could easily  have gone off the beaten path. But we didn’t as we wanted to see what was laid out  before us by those who knew the area, the history  and the geology of the cave. There were places where we could have ignored the signs and stumbled off into terrain which would have defeated our learning opportunity. Life is like that. There are places and activities into which we are ill advised to go. There are people we ought not  to trust.  There are challenges which should be ignored.  The Garden Of Eden should make us think carefully  of the consequences of disobedience. Adam and Eve just wanted to “experience” the forbidden fruit. The world is full of wrecked lives of people who just wanted to call the shots and ignore the Divine Father who loves us so tenderly. He wants nothing but happiness for the whole human race.  But He limited himself when He gave his human creatures freedom of choice. Had he not done so, we would be Robots.  If God could make us do anything he wanted us to do we would be as dead as doorknobs.  But He will not take away our freedom to choose. Ask anyone if he/she would like to be a Robot. We  know what the answer would be.  Ruth and I went  to visit the caves in Utah, Arizona and Colorado and that was an awesome adventure too. In some of the caves, there is a rope afixed to allow cavers to find their way  back to the entrance.  Some  people have disappeared in caves over the years because they have ignored the safety options.  We continued right down to the inevitable mini market at the bottom. It was a long way down.
But we found something at the bottom which was a great relief.  There was an elevator all the way to the top!   We made our way  to the RV, put the kettle on and had lunch. It was a fine adventure and learning experience. And there were other things t0 be gained too. Following the line of least  resistance, going with  the crowd leads multitudes to destruction and many  people do not learn how to get off the treadmill. Jesus said there are multitudes on the road to destruction.
But the great lesson that came to me was that , though the way down in our siritual life is very like the protected walk down into the Carlsbad Cavern.  Protected by guardrails, well lighted, smooth underfoot, lots of signage, many others going the same way…sounds very like the world we live in. “I have the right to make my own choices as long as I don’t hurt anyone else”. “It doesn’t matter what we believe in as long  as we practice  it in everyday life”.   “We  are all going to Heaven but by a variety of roads”. One writer said, “Jesus could not possibly have said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No-one  comes to the Father except through me”.  And he gives two reasons for his claim.  One, he says, that scripture only appears once in the Bible, therefore we do not  have to believe it”.  And second, “Jesus is much too kind to send anyone to hell”.   The implication is that he says everyone is going to Heaven.  What rubbish!  I know a man who collects old junk cars and trucks and litters up the pasture with them. Is it reasonable to believe God will  keep all the souls who have rejected Him?    There is plenty of room in the Kingdom of God for all who believe the Good News that when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and live the life victorious with Him, we will be in the Kingdom of heaven.   But to put off the decision to repent and believe the Good News, is to have made a decision already!  And the difference is greater by far than being at the bottom with no elevator to the surface, as in the Cavern. What God in his wisdom requires of us is that we obey Him willingly, give Him our very lives, a bit like getting on the elevator to LIFE.
But there is more. I have heard countless accounts from people who have come out of darkness into the light. And not just by coming out physically from a dark place into a lighted place.  When Jesus cured a man who had been born blind and restored his sight, the man said, “ I was blind and now I see”.  And he rejoiced to have his sight.  But there is another kind of darkness and that is the darkness of disobedience. God has revealed himself to the world in many ways; through His creation and the beauty of  His people, those who have responded to His love and forgiveness. But chiefly through His Son Jesus Christ, who I believe is the final Word of the Father to  mankind.
In  John 6:28-29 we read that the crowds at Capernaum said to Him, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom He has sent.  When we make the decision to turn our lives over to God by coming to Jesus Christ and  His Love we learn that we know how to respond in penitence and commitment, through the Holy Spirit. Then we are ready to learn the Truth and live for God.
Back to the allegory of going down into the pit of darkness and rising again to the Light – when people make a Decision to commit as much of themselves as they know, to as much of Christ as they know, is so moving it is like being born all over again, with a new start in life; what Saint Paul said was like “becoming New Creations in Christ”. That I can personally attest to.  That I have also heard from hundreds of people when they have first  believed.  That is what happened as we  read in  Chapter 3 of St. John’s Gospel when the Jewish Rabbi Nicodemus came to see Jesus by night. What a powerful experience it is to observe in others.   And what a powerful thing it has continued to be in my life.   I was down in the darkness of indecision, suffering serious indigestion and wondering where my life was going. My encounter with Jesus Christ put all that away and my life now had and has  a Capital L.  L for Life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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