Every single ounce of your weight | Romans 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
This verse is a continuation of verses 24-25, so I'm going to keep going with the same metaphor of rock climbing. I think Paul is saying here that when we slip off in our faith, the Spirit will catch us. God isn't only the hope-rope that holds us to the life of obedience and love into which he's called us; he's also our belay partner.
The rope represents our hope - God himself - who ties today, wherever we are, to the final destination of glory. If today holds suffering, sin, or weakness, he's the rope that gives us hope that today (with all its glitches) is still a day on the path to life. And if today holds victory, joy, and love, he's the rope that affirms our hope that we're really getting somewhere.
Our hope is God himself who ties us from today to eternity.
But what about the days when we stray from God himself? What about the days when we doubt the rope, when hope betrays us and we find we aren't even sure anymore if God is on our side?
In other words, what happens when we stop clinging to the very thing that gives us hope? Is there still hope when we do that?
The answer is a definite yes. God is here to get you to where he wants you, even on days when you question whether or not he knows what he's doing, even on days when you doubt if he's even good at all. Because all that suffering, all that sin, it's going to make you question God.
And that's a horrible feeling, being up there on the rock and not knowing if your rope is even good. But that feeling isn't going to change anything.
Because there's someone at the end of the rope, making sure it works. In fact, he's at both ends. He's the beginning and the end of this climb.
The Holy Spirit who is in you all through your life is also at both ends of your life. Being God, he's the final destination - the anchor that holds you and to which you are climbing. And being your intimate advocate, he's the one back on the ground, belaying you through every second, knowing exactly how hard this is, because he lived it himself. He already completed the climb. He will not let your hope fail: "...hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5:5).
Sometimes a climber just runs out of steam. There's no strength in hand or foot and no strength to hold the rock. And so they hang - they put all their weight on the rope. They sit there, in midair, just hanging, and every single ounce of weight is placed on the belay partner.
Isn't that amazing? Just at the moment when you've totally lost faith, that's the moment God has literally all your weight. When your faith has failed, he provides not only the thing you are believing in, but the strength to believe as well. He helps you in your weakness by praying for you, by exerting his own faith in what he himself is doing in order to continue doing it. Like an excellent belayer, he holds on to your weight when you can't hold yourself up.
The belayer is more directly connected to the end anchor even than the climber is: "he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit." The one holding you and praying for you is the same one you're trying to get to. And he's the same one who is holding you fast as you get there. This is an absolutely fool-proof plan! When I tell you that failure is not an option, this is what I mean. God is working on every possible side of you to ensure that your climb ends where it should: in glory. Eternal life.
The belayer has the benefit of seeing the whole climb from start to finish, and can work and advise you accordingly. The Spirit prays for us in ways we cannot pray for ourselves because he sees everything that's going on in us and all around us. However, your own experience of the climb will not be so big-picture. You will be the one with your face up against the rock, seeing only the gravel on the rock that's right in front of you. It's your job to notice things, to see well, to make intelligent choices, and to step strong. But you can do your work - live your life - without fear because you know your hope and you know who is on your side.
Climbers do insane things, life-threatening things, with little to no fear, because of the belay system. God calls us to this life and level of faith - to climb with all our might into love, faith, suffering, joy, and hope because we have total confidence in the infallible system he has set up for our good through the work of Christ and the ongoing ministry of the Spirit in our lives.
What insane things does God call us to do? What risks to personal safety and comfort does he empower us to take because we know he is with us? How about loving our enemies? Forgiving those who have wronged us, without expectation of ever getting back what they owe us. Continuing to persevere through besetting sins. Rejoicing in suffering. Gratefully accepting grace. Embracing humility as a means to an end. These are things we naturally run from, out of self-preservation. But with God as our rope, and with God at both ends of the rope, why worry? Every flaw in the rock is a foothold for our climb. The bigger the flaw, in fact, the stronger the foothold. Step into it with confidence and strength.
Claim it. There's no way around the fact that if you are going to trust God with your life, you need to get to know him better and better. He has a reputation of getting people to the top without falling. Spend time in the Bible and watch how he held on to others who trusted in him. See your life in their lives, and talk to him about the specifics.