Life at the edge of a cliff… faith

Here’s something I wrote back in February, 2006 (Gosh… almost two years ago!). Original post here.

These are my own words, now, confirmed by the spirit and affirmed by our discussion in my class on Kierkegaard regarding the knight of resignation and his movement into the knight of faith (Fear and Trembling). The conversation in class left me literally breathless, and having to close the class early when so many questions were left unanswered was absolute torture. Stacy this is part of our ongoing interactions with our strengths.

cliff To me, the decision to truly be overwhelmed and taken up by the infinite, to truly be released into his power, is like standing on the edge of a cliff. God has promised me that I can fly. I… can… fly!! There is only one problem and that is that there is this huge cliff, where I can barely even see the bottom. But I could be flying!! Faith, then, is jumping off this cliff. Now many people want faith, many people want to fly. The only problem is that they don’t want to leave the solid ground. Or… they keep wanting to come back. They may stick their toe out, or hang over the edge, but this is a cop-out and not faith. The act of will to actually jump is too much for them, for it requires all the strength in their being. They may ask, “Which comes first faith or the resignation of will? Don’t I have to have some assurance that I am going to fly before I can jump? Can’t I hold on to anything?” The answer is that faith only comes, and Kierkegaard agrees, after the jump. The flying only happens after a complete release of solid ground. “But that is absurd,” one might say. “There is no flying for humans. We are meant to walk. I want to fly, but I can’t think of how it is possible.” That, I say, is the point! We cannot fly on our own. That is why we must jump.

I am a strong believer in spiritual disciplines. These I believe are the acts of resigning the will. They are what get us closer to the edge of that cliff. Initially, I don’t know that they are made in absolute surrender, but God has given them to us, and laid them on our hearts, to make that jump a little easier. Once, and if ever, the flying begins, these disciplines become the release. They are the acts of will that make it possible for us to continue flying.

But what are we supposed to give up, a rich young ruler may ask. Jesus told him to give up his best. The thing that is closest to his heart. “Okay,” another might think. “What is my best then? How do I decide what to give up and release? Which area of this cliff should I jump off of that would make the best jump?” Do you see where this is going? If you jump, you jump. There is no best thing to give, only everything. Thinking about it too hard is only going to keep you on land.

Another will ask, “But is the giving up a general or specific thing? Do I make the decision to release everything at once, or do I give up one thing at a time?” Well, when you jump, do you first stick your foot out? Do you sit down and try to fall off? Do you hang by your hand off the edge, or grasp onto whatever is close by? Or do you take a running jump? Once again… thinking too hard. It is a jump. It is an absolute and “infinite resignation” as Kierkegaard puts it. We cannot hold on to some things and let go of others. A cliff is a cliff.

The thing that always gets me though, is what happens after the jump. All my strength has gone into making the jump. My flying is completely absurd and impossible and only abled by the infinite under, over, and around me. But what about those times when I am reminded of solid ground? For some reason there are times when I try to go back there and control or find my value in the finite. I think this is my nature and it hits me quickly. What do I do with that? Do I go back to the cliff? I sure hope not.

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