Rachel Porter shared this testimony recently. We thought it was great, so you might like to read it again... Praise God!
I was trapped at the top at the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, paralysed with fear...
This is the story of how God revealed his protection. Has anyone climbed up to the Whispering Gallery? It is 257 steps up a winding stone staircase and when you look over the edge, the marble floor seems a very long way down. It is.
I clung onto the wall, while my two children and our friends enjoyed whispering to each other from opposite sides of the great building. Then they wanted to go up to the next gallery: another 119 steps. Being a sensible Mum (or maybe not!) I followed. When we reached the Stone Gallery, we had to step outside.
The ledge was a couple of metres wide and everyone was enjoying the panoramic view. I was trying not to look down. It was a very very long way. Thankfully some kind person had constructed iron railings between the stone pillars, so we couldn’t fall out. It helped… a bit.
I took a photo of the London skyline then wanted to get back to safety, but my family and friends were eager to climb to the highest viewing area: the Golden Gallery. You can do this, I told myself, the steps are enclosed like Durham Cathedral, it will be fine. But when we walked through a narrow tunnel, the circular stone steps had disappeared and in their place was my worst nightmare: a hanging spiral staircase. I couldn’t look.
I used to have this recurring nightmare of going up a staircase, then it would suddenly dissolve and the next part would be impossible to reach. If anyone has climbed up to the Golden Gallery, they will know that the circular iron staircase is constructed in the top section of the shrinking dome and attached with tiny wires to the walls.
After we reached the first platform, I said to my friend, “I don’t think I like this,” but our children were queuing on the rungs below: there was no choice but to go on. And on. And on. Don’t look up, don’t look down, don’t look to the sides, I said to myself, just concentrate on moving one step, one handhold at a time.
I prayed every one of those 152 steps and repeated this mantra in my mind: One hand, one foot: you can do this! When I reached the top, I can’t tell you what a relief it was. But then I saw what we were standing on: a tiny ledge only a metre wide with the whole of London lying beneath. I clung onto the wall and watched people squeezing past.
My friend joined me, but this young official kept saying, “Move along, other people are behind you.” My friend looked at him. “We are waiting for our children.” He ignored us: “Move along!” She backed around the narrow corner to find the children. I was alone: just me and a tiny ledge separating me from the chasm. I was paralysed with fear. “Help!” I screamed silently. “Lord, please help me!”
Suddenly, an elderly couple appeared and the lady smiled. “Don’t worry love, you’ll be alright; I was scared my first time here as well.” I tried to smile back, but my cheeks wouldn’t move. The man nodded. “You go first, we’ll be right behind you.” I looked at the gap that had narrowed to half a metre then disappeared around a corner. What if I stepped into thin air? 528 steps is a long way to fall.
I turned to the complete strangers. “Could I go between you?” I whispered. The lady smiled again then took the lead and I found I could just shuffle my feet without lifting them off the ground. As soon as we turned the corner, there was the door leading down to the iron steps. I clutched the doorframe and knew I’d be safe. My family and friends joined me and we descended another spider staircase to the Stone Gallery.
I took a similar photo of the iconic buildings, then finally we reached the marble floor of the cathedral. My legs were trembling; my whole body just crumpled. I had survived, but there was something else that I didn’t know until that evening when we looked at the photos.
Everyone was amazed to see the second photo had a huge golden cross shining on one of the buildings. I hadn’t noticed it when I took the picture. I don’t know what caused it: maybe the sun was reflecting against the gold cross of St Paul’s above me. Whatever it was, to me it was a sign that God had been there with me when I was at my weakest, when I literally couldn’t move; that He had sent the elderly couple so I could walk between them.
The image of the gold cross is a reminder that God is there in our weakness and helps us to visualise His presence. Jesus knows what we are going through and He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord is with us, saying: “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Faith grows when we act upon it. Proverbs 3 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” It may take one foot at a time, one hand at a time, but Jesus is The Good Shepherd and He will lead you into green pastures.
I believe that God wants this to be a Year of Renaissance for many people. The definition of renaissance is renewal, rebirth, revival of interest, beauty, a relationship between parts, a symmetry that is coming together. If He has called you to something and you work hard “Run the race,” as Paul says “God’s word will not return until it accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it.”
We all need the support of other people around us in prayer, but often we also need practical support like I was given by the elderly couple who walked in front of me and behind, guiding me to safety. Let’s face this New Year with faith and see what God will achieve through each one of us and together as the body of Christ!