Are You On the Cliff’s Edge?

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The day started out like a scene from The Sound of Music. We had spent the morning in American Basin, an 11,600-foot-high alpine paradise nestled in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The meadow was full of mid-summer wildflowers, just as we had hoped. I half expected Fraulein Maria to appear with a quick chorus of The Hills Are Alive as we wound along the trail. Columbine, elephant flower, Indian paintbrush, harebells—it looked like a rainbow had exploded on the valley floor, the color interrupted only by a bubbling mountain stream that meandered through the foliage. Yeah, it was pretty sweet.

But as we drove back down the windy, rocky dirt road toward camp, disaster threatened an otherwise perfect day.

As we bumped along we came to a narrow, single-track section of road that perched precariously over a very steep, very long drop into a canyon. And—wouldn’t you know?—a truck was on its way up, just as we were on our way down. We were at an impasse. So, after conversing with the truck driver, I began to walk up the hill to let the other vehicles behind us know that we’d all have to back up until we could find a turn-out to let the truck pass. The first car I came to was a blue SUV.

After I explained the situation to the driver, she began backing up…only she didn’t notice her wheels were turned the wrong direction. Instead of backing up the hill, she was backing off the cliff. As her tires started going over, I ran to her window.

“Ma’am, you need to get out of your car…right now.” My voice was calm but firm.

Time to panic yet?

“No, I can do this,” she insisted. But as she tried to back away from the edge of the sheer drop, her tires slipped even further off the dirt road. I reached through her open window with my right arm looking for the lock to open the door to pull her out myself.

“Ma’am, please. You have got to get out of your car!” I pleaded. Now her rear driver’s side wheel was off the ground, and her front passenger side wheel was dangling over nothingness. Didn’t she see that if she didn’t get out of her car, she was going to die? Was she really completely blind to the imminent danger threatening her very existence?

I began praying, out loud and with conviction, “God, hold this car up! Send your angels to hold these tires up until she gets out of her car!” Lucky for all of us, God loves to show up when He’s all the chance we’ve got. I’m happy to report He held that car up. Eventually (read: a few seconds that felt like an eternity later), I was able to get her door open and hung onto it with all the body weight I could muster because, certainly, little ol’ me would be a big help to those angels keeping two-and-a-half tons of metal from tumbling down the cliff.

Safe at last.

Thankfully, the driver finally abandoned the notion that she could fix this herself, and frantically unbuckled her seatbelt. Still holding the door with my left arm, I grabbed her arm with my right hand and pulled.

Safely outside the car, she saw just how desperate her situation had been. She literally could have died. If God hadn’t graciously intervened, her blue SUV—with her inside it—would have found its home among the other mangled wrecks at the bottom of that canyon (and I found out later there were quite a few). But instead she was safe, and now three big boys from Oklahoma clamored onto her rear tire and bumper to weigh down that car until help could arrive.

Her name was Rita. We sat on the roadside for three hours together (along with the Oklahoma trio on her bumper and a growing crowd of people who were trapped by the roadblock), while we waited for the tow truck that would eventually lift her vehicle to safety. Since she was pretty much stuck with me, I talked with her about God. A lot. She didn’t surrender her life to Jesus that day, but she couldn’t deny God’s existence any longer. I’m praying that one day I’ll see Rita in heaven, and I’ll get to hear the rest of the story—perhaps how that dramatic day opened her eyes to see just how much God loves her, and that she lived to see many more miracles in her life.

Blind and desperate, just like us.

As I think about that story, I’m struck by a soberiUnashamedng reality: Rita didn’t understand the desperateness of her situation. There she was, tipping over the side of a sheer drop-off, and she thought she could fix it herself! How could she be that blind? you and I might be tempted to wonder. But before we’re too hard on Rita, will you consider another sobering reality with me?

We’re just like her.

Sin blinds us to the desperateness of our situations. It keeps us from seeing the danger we’re in. Here’s the deal: If you are caught in habitual sin, you are dangling on the side of a spiritual cliff. I can’t in good conscience sit here and tell you that it’s no big deal. I can’t just pat you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry about it, girlfriend. We all have our struggles. Just keep trying harder and you’ll be okay in the end.” Please hear me on this: You won’t be okay in the end if you continue in your sin. And I’ll have to answer to God if I don’t warn you just how dangerous willful sin is.

Just like Rita was oblivious to the extent of her personal peril, we can also be blind to the danger of our sin. So if you’re caught in a secret sin of any kind today, let me stand outside your car window and tell you exactly why you need to get out right now.

– Jessie Minassian

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