Real growth requires risk.
“Will I ever have to jump off a cliff?”
“No, honey. I will never ask you to jump off a cliff, never, ever, ever.”
“Then will God ask me to jump off a cliff?”
“No, Missy. He would never ask you to do anything like that.”
This was a conversation Mack had with his daughter Missy as they were observing a waterfall on their way to the fateful camping trip.
(The legend told in the book is an actual true legend about Multnomah falls in Oregon).
Mack was telling Missy about an ancient beautiful Indian maid, the daughter of a chief of the Multnoman tribe. The tale centered on a princess, the only child left to her aging father. The chief loved his daughter very much and carefully picked out a husband for her, a young warrior chief of the Clatsop tribe, whom he know she loved. The tribes came together to celebrate the days of the wedding feast, but before the feast began a terrible sickness spread among the men, killing many.
The elders and chiefs of the tribe met to discuss what to do about the disease that was decimating their warriors. The oldest medicine man among them spoke of how his own father, when aged and near death, had foretold of a terrible sickness that would kill their men, an illness that could be stopped only if a pure and innocent daughter of a chief would willingly give up her life for her people. In order to fulfill the prophecy, she had to voluntarily climb to a cliff above the river and jump to her death onto the rocks below.
Ultimately the chiefs decided they could not ask anyone to do that, especially for a legend they weren’t ‘sure was true. But the disease continued to spread and eventually the young warrior chief that was about to be married fell ill with the sickness. The princess who loved him knew in her heart that something had to be done, and after cooling his fever and kissing him softly on the forehead, she went quietly away. After praying and giving herself to the Great Spirit, she fulfilled the prophecy by jumping without hesitation to her death on the rocks below.
The next morning, back in the village, those who had been sick arose well and strong. There was great joy and celebration until the young warrior realized his future bride was missing.
The legend said that as the people gathered around her broken body at the foot of the cliff, the father cried out that this sacrifice would always be remembered. At that moment, water began to flow from the rocks, thus creating Multnomah Falls (p. 28 – 29).
The legend was that the princess had to die so that there would be healing in the land.
There are many similarities between that legend and the narrative of Jesus, which we believe is anything but a legend.
The ministry of Jesus was rocking everyone’s world. They were unhappy that he was upsetting their religious norms and the more he taught, the more upset they became. Eventually, they began trying to “catch” him in a chargeable offense so that they could stop this revolution.
When they finally were able to find cause to arrest and try him, he was well aware of their game. It was in those moments and days that the entire lesson he had been TRYING to teach came into full view.
Mark 8:34-37 The Message (MSG)
34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
To grow in our faith requires risk.
To have healing, true inner healing, which puts us at one with God kind of healing, we have to sacrifice ourselves.
It cannot be about us.
We must risk a life that is focused beyond ourselves, not on ourselves.
No, we don’t have to jump off cliffs like the Indian princess. But – we do have to take risks. Risks of letting our stuff go and trusting that we will rest in the sustaining presence and powerful peace of God. Risks of picking up our crosses and following Jesus. That is real risk.