FLURISH: THE BRINK
Back in 2005 I had the awesome privilege of chaperoning a group of teenagers across the U.S. border into the Ten Thousand Islands region of Canada.The old yellow lodge by the lake housed about 25 of us. It was a week long retreat and team building mission with teens across PA. The entire experience holds many fond memories for me such as water skiing and tubing for the first time and midnight boat rides across the lake with the moon as our only light.
I was at a crossroad in my personal journey. I needed to make some hard decisions requiring major changes in my life. I was standing on the brink, afraid to look over the edge.
So this Canadian odyssey provided a sweet and challenging distraction. A time of much needed soul reflection between kitchen duty and day trips with the rambunctious teens. I enjoyed every minute except one.
Toward the end of the week our convoy of vans and SUVs barreled along pitted roads and into the deep coniferous forest. Higher and higher our four wheel drive climbed, as well as my anxiety levels, to our destination, a mountain top high ropes course.
The kids were ecstatic and I was in a panic. I decided I would simply observe, encourage and be there for moral support. The team leader was having none of that. He expected me to fully participate and be an example to the kids. Reluctantly, I donned my helmet and rope gear and waited nervously in line for my first challenge. I watched these kids fearlessly tackle each element 30 feet above me without nets.
A beautiful 16 year old next to me in line noticed my extreme apprehension. She asked me what I was afraid of most? Falling was my answer. She pointed out to me the person holding the rope below for the person on the element as a belayer. The belayer’s job was to secure the person above on the course from the ground through ropes and watch the person closely, letting out slack as needed. She told me falling was really the fun part because the belayer below will hold you up with the rope system so there was no need to fear. I felt she knew what she was talking about from her confident attitude and somehow I gained the courage to climb the tree and stand on the spike next to the skinny rope. I stepped out on the rope and gingerly began moving forward. I inched slowly to the middle of the element when it happened. I lost my balance and began plummeting down 30 feet. My faithful belayer was on his toes and caught me before I fell more than 10 feet. I bobbed in the air as I realized the 16 year old knew the truth, it was fun to fall and I began to laugh. I went on to confidently finish two more elements perfectly that day, but the highlight for me was falling and being safely caught by the belayer. I felt great about my accomplishment.
The same truth applied to my fears concerning my future and the decisions I was facing. I needed to move forward in faith and if I fell I knew my divine belayer would always be there to catch me and even make it fun.
How about you? Are you facing something scary in your path? I find myself these days on another brink that looks frightening. I have to remind myself of the lesson I learned on the high ropes course: MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THE FEAR KNOWING FALLING WILL NOT HURT ME AS LONG AS I AM TRUSTING MY DIVINE BELAYER. It might even be fun.
Practical tip: Keep a perpetual journal of how God has helped you through the scary things in life. It will build your faith when you read over your entries realizing HE has never allowed you to fall into harm but faithfully held you up each time like a watchful belayer. “The eternal GOD is your refuge, and HIS everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 New Living translation
I never regretted pushing through the fear and taking the risks. Each time my ability to FLURISH increased. I pray you will trust the divine belayer whenever you find yourself on the brink!