Don’t Look Down

I admit, there are certain things that terrify me. Spiders. (barf!) Otherwise known by it’s official, scientific name, which if I remember correctly loosely translates to “leg demon”. I am convinced that one of the sole purposes of being in a relationship is so that women i.e; me, never have to come face to face with the eight-legged spawns. That’s a man’s job. But since I am single, and have been for a whole decade now, I’ve unfortunately had to master various methods of staring down this leg demon and bringing it to it’s demise. Unapologetically. They deserve everything they get.

Deep water. This one is a little more complicated so I’ll explain the parameters. I actually do enjoy swimming. In a pool. Like, at someone’s house. The lake or the ocean, not so much. More so the ocean. My reasoning? I can see the bottom of someones pool. The water is clear and I know there is nothing in there that is trying to kill me. The ocean, however, is a giant cesspool of carnivorous activity just waiting to sink their chompers into some of this fresh white meat. No thanks! Also, whether I’m in a lake or the ocean, one of my biggest fears is me walking along in the water, minding my own business when suddenly…the lake (or ocean) floor gives way and I can no longer touch the bottom. It creeps me out! So when I do find myself at the beach, I prefer to stay in the surf where the water/waves meet the shore. That’s my happy place. (There was also an incident when I was younger involving butterflies. But that’s another story for another time.)

Something I am not afraid of though? Heights! I don’t have any fear of heights. It might have something to do with the fact that my father was a roofer his whole life and therefore I’ve climbed up my fair share of really tall ladders and walked along some really steep ridge polls. I’ve always loved to climb things, especially if there’s a good view involved.

All of this to say that heights are not an issue for me. Which is why I was so excited to finally try out the ropes/zip line obstacle course they built where I live. The best part? The entire thing takes place 60 feet up in the air! My kinda fun!

Afterwards, I was reflecting on how much fun and challenging (in a good way) the course was. All 90 minutes of it! I also realized there were a lot of similarities to life and lessons to be learned from this experience. So, here are the four things that maneuvering through an obstacle course 60 feet up in the air taught me.

Trust.
I think this goes without saying, but anytime your life is dependent upon any type of apparatus, you’re putting your trust into the person(s) who designed and created it. My will was not keeping me up 60 feet in the air at all times. It was the harness wrapped around my legs, waist and arms, which was then attached to a large clip, which in turn was hooked onto the safety line at all times. Although it was my job to maneuver the large hook from one obstacle to the other, there was rarely a point where I wasn’t attached to something.

The only reason I wasn’t plummeting to my death at any given moment throughout this obstacle course was because of a sound structure and safety measures that were taken in creating this thing in the first place. The architect, the engineer, the health and safety guy. Those same people had gone through every scenario in their head to make sure that my well being was of the utmost priority. I was putting my trust into someone I had never met. I was trusting the design. I was trusting the reinforced steel beams. I was trusting that the zip line chord wasn’t going to somehow give way. I didn’t question how it was all put together. I didn’t sit back and think “well, that’s not how I would’ve done it…” I don’t know anything about structural engineering and safety! Who am I to question it? I was trusting that the people that had a hand in putting this structure together knew what they were doing and my only job now was to lean into that knowledge and participate in what it was put there to do.

How often do we question God? How often do we question His methods? His timing? His purposes and plans for our lives? As if we as mere humans are qualified to question Almighty God. The creator of the entire universe. The book of Job in the Bible puts this very thing into perspective for us when Job, a man who has experienced unimaginable loss, sickness and heartache, begins to question and debate God in his grief. God allows him to vent. For awhile. And then God comes back at Job with an answer that not only puts Job in his place but also brings him to his knees in worship.

He finally understands that God is God, and he is not and his job is to trust in His sovereignty. For the complete story I encourage you to read the book of Job, specifically Job chapters 38-42.

Strength.
Completing an obstacle course, just like running a marathon is not for the faint of heart. It also isn’t something that you can complete without a certain level of persistence, stability and core strength. Only a couple of years ago, I had little to no upper body strength whatsoever. I was not taking care of myself properly and I was too skinny. I couldn’t even do one full push up. I was weak. Then, about 2 years ago I signed up for the gym and made the commitment to get healthy. Not only that but I wanted to be strong! Just over two years later and I’m able to run for longer distances and I can do 10 proper push ups in a row each time. That’s a huge difference! I’m stronger. And I had to rely on that strength while I was completing this course.

I had already been to the gym that morning, but this took a different kind of strength. This wasn’t lifting weights. This involved core strength. Stability. Stamina. Balance. There were different levels of difficulty throughout the course. The obstacles got more challenging as it went on. The ones that were the most difficult were the obstacles that were wobbly or that didn’t have a sturdy or fixed place to put my feet. Sometimes the only thing that I had to put my foot on was a single wire or a piece of rope that was dangling and I had to use all the core strength I had to not only keep my balance but to hold myself up and keep myself steady enough to make the next step. And let me tell ya, the next morning when I woke up, I could definitely feel it! I felt every muscle from the day before. It took everything I had to go from one obstacle to the next.

Many times in life, our footing isn’t always steadfast. Of course we would prefer it if everywhere we stepped was rock solid. It would definitely make things a whole lot easier wouldn’t it? If we could be sure in our next step. Have you ever seen those videos of goats or deer that live way up high in the mountains? The way they are able to run and leap and jump from place to place without a worry in the world! It’s like they don’t even have to think about their next step. They have complete faith in the instincts and ability that God has given them to jump from here to there without stopping to pause and think about it for 5 hours.

In Psalm 18:33, King David, feeling thankful to God says, “He (God) makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.”

How do we remain surefooted even on life’s shaky ground? That too takes a certain kind of strength. The strength that can only come from God Himself! It comes from reading His words (the Bible), and then actually believing them to the point where we start to live them out. Being in constant communication with Him, (talking to Him/prayer) that we get to know His voice. In this way we also can be as surefooted as a deer. Having complete faith that God is perfectly capable of getting us from one platform to the next!

One Step At A Time
Patience is a virtue and one that each of us are taught and should be trying to acquire on a daily basis. Patience is however one of my least favourite virtues as I tend to be quite impatient. Especially when I really want or am excited about something. I’ve made improvements over time but It’s still something I have yet to master. When I get it in my head to do something I just want to hurry up and do it. I don’t like waiting.

During certain times on the obstacle course, when the footing was more sturdy, I was able to hurry my way across to the next platform. But there were other times that even when I could clearly see the other side, I still wasn’t able to get there as fast as I wanted to. The way across wasn’t as sturdy and therefore I had to take my time or risk slipping. I had to take it one step at a time. I had to take my focus off of the other side and hang on to whatever was around me so that I could focus more on what was right in front of me…my next step. While I eventually made it across, it took more time to get there.

So often we have a vision, a dream or a goal in our minds of where we want to be. We see other people getting to live out their’s while perhaps our journey seems to be taking a bit (a lot) longer. This can often times be quite frustrating, especially when we want something so badly or we feel that God has called us to that certain thing. Why does it seem to take so long?

I know for me, I had a vision for what I wanted my life to be. And I can tell you that I am no where near where I thought I would be at this age. I’m 36 years old and it seems to me that I am so very far away from everything I thought my life should be at this time in my life. One could argue that poor life choices along the way could be a factor in that. And I wouldn’t disagree. I haven’t always been wise in my decisions throughout various seasons in my life. And that’s on me. But I would also submit to you, dear reader, that no choices that I or you have made have been a surprise to God. He knew the choices you would make long before you made them. And while not every circumstance is God sent, it does have the potential to be God used. Meaning, that no matter how far away something may seem or how slowly your steps may be towards the call that God has on your life, every step is that much closer. Every step is another tool in your tool belt to be used towards your final destination. Celebrate every.single.step.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”~Proverbs 16:9

Faith
I had gotten to the end of the course. I had completed all 90 minutes of it. However, I still had one challenge left…getting down. The only option is a 60 foot drop down to the ground. The only thing that would be preventing me from plummeting to my death, or a lifetime of paralysis, was a bungee cord attached to my harness. All I had to do was walk up to the ledge, and take a step into midair, free fall for the first few feet, hoping the bungee cord would then catch me and slowly bring me down to the ground. That was the goal. Seems simple enough, right?

It’s easy to say that I trusted the bungee cord to catch me and bring me safely to the ground. I could stand up on that platform all day long and say that I had complete and total trust in the bungee cord to do it’s job. But until I actually stepped off the ledge and allowed gravity to take over, it was just words. What it actually required was faith.

Trust: A firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of something.

Faith: A firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

The Bible actually gives us a better definition:

“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”~Hebrews 11:1

Trust, in it’s truest form, ultimately requires action! That action is faith. I trusted in the bungee cord, something that I could see. But I had faith that it was going to catch me and I proved that by stepping off the ledge. My heart was pounding as I took that step. Sixty feet is a pretty decent drop. And as I took that leap and allowed gravity to do it’s thing, I shrieked with excitement like a little girl and breathed a sigh of relief once I felt the cord catch me. As it slowly brought me closer to the ground I was so proud of myself that I took that leap and I realized how much fun it actually was to “fly” even for those few seconds.

There are many things in this life that requires faith. That requires taking a step off a steep cliff, not knowing the outcome. Not really having a plan beyond that first step. I think the question ultimately is, Do we trust God or don’t we? The only real way to answer that is to jump. To trust that if He brought us to the edge of the cliff, that one of two things will happen, 1) He’ll provide a way across to the other side or 2) He’ll catch us once we’ve taken that leap of faith.

Life is one giant obstacle course. It’s full of twists and turns. Sometimes it’s fun (like zip lining from one platform to another…my favourite part!). Sometimes we have to make our way across slowly on shaky ground, other times our footing is more secure. Sometimes we have no other choice but to jump when we’ve reached the end of everything we think we know. And all along the way there are risks and things that are designed to try and trip you up and keep you from completing your journey. The important thing to know is that no matter what your journey looks like at the present moment, whether you realize it or not, you are held secure. Jesus is your safety line. And while it might feel like we might lose our grip, our balance, or have moments of uncertainty, He is there to make sure we don’t fall. And if nothing else, we know we can trust and have faith in that fact.

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