Higher Ground

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On preparation day we decided to go to Betio Wharf. This is where freight, cargo and large passenger boats dock. The water is this beautiful blue colour and it just makes you want to jump in. It’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. We spent some time walking around the wharf watching a few kids fish and taking photos on one of the fishing boats. While on our way back to the van I thought it would be cool to climb down this massive rock/concrete formations for a picture right next to the beautiful blue water. My intentions were completely innocent. All I wanted and all I focused on was how awesome the photo would be. I was so determined to get it that I didn’t consider anything else. I began the descent cautiously, making sure not to fall through any of the large cracks. Very carefully I would place my feet here and there, holding onto rocks for support. I was very conscious of the fact that should I fall I would very easily break a bone and more than likely be sent home to recover. This was not what I wanted indeed. Very quickly, but carefully I made it to the bottom of the rocks. I crouched down, waiting for the other missionaries to make the descent. As I was crouching down, trying to get closer to the water I suddenly felt myself slipping. Within a few seconds I felt that my lower body was wet and was in the water. Immediately I scrambled to get hold of the rock that was nearest to me in an effort to pull myself out of the water. I tried to regain my footing but my I kept slipping on the moss that I hadn’t before seen. Panic and fear started to grip me. Desperately I tried but my attempts seemed to be in vain. The fear I felt in that moment was a different type of fear. I didn’t fear falling into the water and drowning for I knew that I was a competent swimmer. What I feared was falling into the water period. I knew that it was against mission rules for missionaries to swim and more than anything I didn’t want to fall into the water completely and have to swim in any way at all. I guess the fear in a way was a fear of sin. My companion and another missionary heard my panic and very quickly made their way down to help me. I managed to regain my footing and with their help I was pulled out of the water. We took the photo but the feeling wasn’t as sweet as I had imagined it would be. My desire to take the photo had all but left me after what had happened. All I wanted was to get up and onto higher ground where safety would be found. I managed to climb back up the rocks and onto solid, non-slippery ground. Relief consumed me. My companion and the other missionary then pointed out that I was bleeding. I looked down at my legs and noticed that I had a few scratches and cuts here and there. I then noticed pain coming from my hands and looked down to see that there were a few scratches also.

A few weeks before hand President Larkin had shared a parable about three carriage drivers being interviewed for a position. The interviewer asked the first carriage driver how close he thought he could get to the side of the cliff. The driver responded that he thought he could get fairly close. When asked the same question the second carriage driver said that he could get so close to the side of the cliff that the edge of the wheel would be on the edge of the cliff itself. The interviewer then asked the third carriage driver the same question as the first two before him. The driver responded, saying that he didn’t know how close he could get to the side of the cliff and wanted to stay as far away from the edge as possible. The third carriage driver was the one who got the position.
My experience as well as the parable of the carriage drivers can be likened to sin. Our attitudes shouldn’t be that of the first and second carriage drivers. We shouldn’t push the boundaries to see how close we can get to edge. Instead we should stay as far away from sin as we can, choosing to be like the third carriage driver. Likewise with myself, instead of getting as close to the water as I could I should have stayed up on top – on higher, safer ground. I thought I was safe, not seeing the slippery moss that was waiting to loose my footing and eventually cause me to slip. Foolish is the individual who thinks they can get as close to sin as they can without eventually sinning themselves. Sin may seem enticing to us, perhaps as enticing as the beautiful blue water was to me or the idea of good photo. But where sin lies, there is nothing to be found other than misery and heartache. There is so much to learn from my experience as well as the parable of the carriage driver! But perhaps the lesson I loved most was what I learnt about repentance. We may sin and we may make mistakes. In fact, we do it every day. But there’s a promise, that we can choose to repent and choose to climb back up, onto safer, higher ground. There are always people there to help us as my companion and another missionary had helped me. Through the repentance process, yes, there may be a few scratches and cuts and we may need to recover for that path is not an easy one to take but the feeling of godly forgiveness is incomparable. As we repent and choose to come unto Jesus Christ He truly does help us and heal us. The promise is there for all who choose the path of repentance but we have to choose it.
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