The Great Divide

The Great Divide

The Great Divide 150 150 Michael Thompson

It’s a memory as fresh as yesterday, even though I have made more than forty laps around the sun since then.

The scope and scale of what I saw were enormous. It’s expanse and beauty breathtaking.

Instantly and simultaneously I experienced both heart-racing exhilaration and heart-stopping terror.

Growing up in the American northwest, by age 14 I had seen most of this country’s highest peaks. The soaring mountainscapes of the Cascade and Sawtooth ranges were the backdrop of my formative years.

But standing at the roadside near the massive Perrine Bridge, I knew I had never seen anything like this before.

The Snake River Canyon.

It is only about a quarter-mile wide, but it plunges nearly 500 feet down sheer vertical cliffs. The Snake River runs the 50-mile length of this gorge with rims so high and walls so precipitous it will quickly give you a fit of dizzy.

Ironically, on Sunday, September 8, 1974, at 3:36 pm, famed stunt man Evel Knievel mounted his Skyscyle X-2 and made a rather pitiable attempt to jump this imposing gorge.

He found out you don’t jump such a great divide casually.

Sometimes there is a disconnect between what I believe deeply about God and what I perceive ultimately about me. 

It feels like an impassable chasm. I think of it as my great divide–the difference between…

  • Where I am and where I am supposed to be.
  • What I am and who I was created to be.
  • How things are and how things should be.
  • What I do and what I was meant to do.
  • What I see as real and what I know is true.

I really want to close that gap. I am constantly trying to bridge the disconnect between what I long for and what I look like.

So I race up to the edge of my fears and failures intent to cross that divide only to pull an Evel Knievel and simply parachute safely back to the same side of normal.

My preferable future lies on the other side of the great divide.

So what keeps me from making the leap?

  • Habits that have fed my weakness.
  • Thoughts that have shaped my vision.
  • Wounds that have crushed my hope.
  • Relationships that have entrenched my limitations.
  • Beliefs that have shrunk my God.

The aggregate of these past confining experiences creates a default setting in me.

That go-to impetus leaves me stuck in patterns that keep me on the short side of the divide.

Crossing this fault line is what God tries daily to get me to do. Every failure is an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work. Each success is another girder in the bridge of faith God is building across my emotional canyon of dis-integration.

Each unique personal history is the story of how God welds those successes and failures together into the complex construct called “destiny”. That bridge is the only way over the great divide.

Yet there is that intimidating gap between:

  • dream and come true
  • desire and  fulfillment
  • hope and accomplishment
  • faith and miracle
  • routine and purpose

Getting across that ravine is the specific will of God for my life. Aligning experience with expectation is what risky faith is about. But in the moments I stand at the edge, facing the fear and counting the cost, I am caught in a struggle at the core of my very being.

Do I have the courage to take the leap and cross the great divide? 

Such audacious trust is found at the convergence of vision, faith and hope.

  • Vision is the picture of life unveiled by the loving God who not only framed what I can be, but wills that I will be.
  • Faith is the force that compels me to erase my default, escape my limitations and embrace the impossibility that has captured my imagination.
  • Hope is the unquenchable hunger in my gut that drives me to reach for whatshould be from the quicksand of what is.

When standing at the great divide I am driven back to a passage in Hebrews.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

What ultimately will get me across my not-yet canyon is a deep spiritual tenacity that won’t take no for an answer. Perseverance is that mixture of vision, faith and hope that gets me through the grind of the everyday when is seems miles away from ought.

In the rub and reality of becoming like Him, my trust in Him must run deeper than the great divide.


Michael Thompson

Michael writes because he can’t help it. It is an obsession toward sanity; a way of making sense of his world. Framing ideas, forging thoughts and then forming them into words is both craft and compulsion for him. Growing up in a tight-knit pastor’s home and then spending 20 years of his professional life in teaching ministries, words have been his cocoon since he was a child. Over the past 14 years he has made his living in the marketplace—the wild world of Wall Street. Converging the contrasting realms of church and commerce has given him a unique perspective. It has also birthed an unquenchable passion: to see life as it is transformed into life as it should be.

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