Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OnFire #346 Head Over Heart (Or, Stand Where Eagles Soar)

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #346 Head Over Heart (Or, Stand Where Eagles Soar)

As I’ve written before, Jan and I spent two weeks camping in Banff and Jasper national parks last summer. It was truly spectacular to sleep in the mountains, to walk on glaciers, listen to the thunder of waterfalls, and to gaze upon “lofty mountain grandeur,” as the old hymn goes. 

One neat experience is relatively new to Jasper, the Glacier Skywalk. Modeled on a similar structure in the Grand Canyon, the Glacier Skywalk is a curved glass walkway 280m (918ft) above the valley floor. At its apex, it extends some 35m from the rock wall that supports it. Appropriately enough, it promises patrons will “Stand Where Eagles Soar.” 

It is an impressive piece of engineering. Since it is cantilevered, it juts straight from the side of the mountain. There are no cables extending overhead to support it. Dozens of steel rods drilled 30m (98.5ft) into the rock anchor it instead. A curved suspension cable supports a mere skeleton frame. Mass dampers prevent it from swaying. Four layers of tempered glass totaling 3.2cm (1.25in) provide a clear view to the canyon floor, so far below. 

As we followed the crowd to the walkway we reached the end of the concrete and peered “over the edge” where the glass started. Virtually everyone paused.  It did not feel natural to step out onto a glass walkway, even though we had been told about the construction methods and the strength of the materials. 

It was a clear case of head versus heart. Our heads told us it was safe while our hearts imagined the worst. In a flash, this conflict switched back and forth like a tennis game. It was overbuilt, but then again the Titanic was said to be unsinkable. It seems to be holding people,… but wouldn’t it be my luck to visit on the day it collapsed! 

Clearly I am exaggerating, drawing out the drama. It wasn’t that terrifying, but even I paused at the edge. Some paused quite a long time before deciding it was OK. I don’t recall anyone turning back, but some stopped longer than others.

This is exactly the kind of conflict that happens when we find ourselves going through a difficult time. We know in our heads that God is still there in the midst of our pain, but our hearts question. Did God abandon us?

The apostle Paul reminds us that God goes with us in trouble and difficulty:

He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:8-9*)

When our fears and doubts suggest God has left us, we need to put them in their place with a dose of truth. God WILL strengthen us. Will it be easy? Probably not, but God WILL keep us to the end.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis.  Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain and has more than 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Jan 17, 2017. *New International Version. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email onfireletter@gmail.com. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com

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