Well done me!

Yesterday we enjoyed visiting some waterfalls. The weather wasn’t very good – low clouds and misty rain. However there were a few patches when it wasn’t raining. We parked in Keld and set off on a short walk to see the falls.

First was East Gill Force. This was easy to get to and when we were on our way to the next ones Terry went down onto the river-side stones to take a shot of them. On these occasions I pray he doesn’t slip. Prayers are always answered! I think I have married a mountain goat!

East Gill Force from the opposite bank.

We had a map and instructions to follow. What could go wrong? Not reading the instructions carefully enough, that’s what! We took a path that headed off through the woods and down to the river. It got very rough, slippery and in places scary. At one point I almost had a panic attack (a mild one, but not pleasant nevertheless) and I wondered if I was going to be able to get back out of there. Or would I fall and injure myself? However, thanks to Terry’s reassurance and calm attitude, helping me when I needed it, I managed it. We eventually realised that we were not on the correct path and ‘hacked’ our way back up to what was a more substantial path and considerably easier terrain. We then discovered the way marker pointing to our desired destination, on the path we had found ourselves on.

So we turned round and set off again – this time on the official path. (I actually took the photo on the return trip). This was a much easier path, although not without its rough places where it was slippery and steep. If I hadn’t had the walking poles that Terry had given me for Christmas a couple of years ago I would not have been able to do it. I needed them to steady myself and to push myself up. There were moment of using rock climbing techniques on the steeper bits.

At times I remembered verses from Psalm 91 about God not letting our foot slip. The actual verse refers to his angels:

Psalms 91:12 They will lift you up in their hands,
so you will not slip and fall on a stone.

I did, however, wonder if it was the case when we do silly things and go down dangerous routes of our own accord, and not reading instructions properly. But…. my foot did not slip and I didn’t fall on a stone. I didn’t see any angels either. But I was mightily glad of Terry.

Our efforts were rewarded by wonderful views of the two waterfalls: Upper and Lower Force.

Terry took a lot of photos and friends on Facebook will no doubt see them in due course. It always takes a while for him to download them onto his computer, delete the duff ones and adjust the others. These are the ones I took on my phone.

Lower Force Falls
Lower Force Falls
Upper and Lower Force Falls

When we were on our way back to the car and the going was easy I mulled over what I might write on this blog. I remembered a time when waterfalls were an important part of God speaking to me. But I will save that for another day. Although the path had been scary and difficult I was glad we had gone wrong. It meant that I overcame fear and I proved to myself that I could do more than I imagined possible. Well done me!

I also called to mind a poem I wrote in 1991 on a retreat. It wasn’t a guided or led one – I simply spent a few days in a friend’s flat. It was a time of learning how to be still in God’s presence (not very successfully I thought) and being aware of his love and desire to heal me.

A comparison between the Christian journey and walking in the Shropshire hills.

Never a dull moment.
What’s next along the Way?
Rough or smooth, with eyes fixed on Jesus,
it hardly matters
But look away from Him and it’s easy to stray.

Frustration, anguish and pain
the scorching heat of your all-seeing eyes
meet me.

Nothing is hidden from you
I hide from myself
but you see everything.
You see my shame
you see my pain.
and you cry for me.

Your healing tears drop down into my soul

Peace, contentment and joy are there in the resting places,
the cool, refreshing oasis.

It would be easy to stay sheltered out of the wind and rain
but to reach the journey’s end I have to endure some pain.

And so I slowly regain strength and peace,
feeling battered but
secure in the knowledge of your love
I’m ready to join the Way again.
Some of the best views are to be gained from difficult routes
a stick helps tired legs and clears away thorns
but only if it’s used.

On the Way, our Word will be my staff
I know you have the words of life.
Give me enough faith to act on them,
to believe and use them.

Jesus, you are the provider of all:
you want me to make this journey.
So provide me with all I need,
for on my own I can go nowhere

and it’s dull every moment without you.

a prayer
Help me Lord to keep going with you;
keep me on the right path.
May I never stray too far from you
When I do,
Bring me back to the right path.

Today, nearly 20 years later, I am glad that I have taken the journey of allowing God to be my guide in life and to trust in him. He has brought about so much inner healing and peace that I wouldn’t have thought possible back then. The Christian life of trusting in God doesn’t always lead us through easy paths – often the opposite is true – but when we dare to go forth into the unknown with him we do find that he doesn’t let us down. His rod and staff are a comfort and strength.

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