Sorry for the silence! I spent the last week with Jon's youth group at Alpine Adventures, one of my favorite places in the world (even though it is in WV). Alpine is a place where thrills and fun intersect with God. I've never been to a place where God is so visible: in his creation, in the activities we do, in the relationships between students, and in the focused study time.
This was my fourth trip to Alpine and my second as a leader. While most everything stayed the same (stuffy mattresses, cafeteria food, AMAZING chocolate chip cookies), they had built a new high ropes course. The course offers two levels, one at a paltry 25 feet, and the other at 40 feet, directly above the first. You navigate the course with a partner, choosing the elements you wish to complete.
Now, I must say I don't consider myself to be afraid of heights (this is called acrophobia, for all your lexophiles out there). I like flying, I love mountain top views, and I don't mind driving across big bridges. However something in your brain kicks in when you are standing on a teeny platform atop a telephone pole. I kept trying to mentally win the battle, but I started to lose and become fearful!
Over the course of the day, we were reminded to have faith that the harness and tag lines would hold us. We had to trust them completely for our safety, just as how we must trust the Lord. I told myself that I wasn't afraid and that I trusted in my equipment, but I still had trouble beginning any element that wouldn't let me hold onto my tag lines for security.
The hardest element of the day for me was the monkey bars. Monkey bars? Didn't you do those a bajillion times as a kid? Why yes. Except I was a kid (I weigh slightly more now) AND I was never more than a couple feet from the ground. I don't even want to envision what I would have looked like simultaneously clinging to my tag lines and the monkey bars. So every time I reached for the first bars, a fear would grip my body. I was unable to force myself off the ledge and put my weight into my arms. I wasn't so afraid falling, but rather failing. I honestly didn't believe that I possessed the strength to make it all the way across.
My ropes partner and Jon spent a long while encouraging me. I began to jump and then chickened out. Over and over and over. Twelve years later (or perhaps a few minutes), Jon finally told me just to "GO!" I forced myself off the ledge and onto the bars.
It was tough. My muscles were very angry with me. (In fact, they only forgave me for the week's activities' just today.) But I am also stubborn. I was GOING to get across. And I did, without falling. After arriving, I hugged the telephone pole. VICTORY!!
It occurred to me that although I said I believed and trusted, I really had doubts. I doubted my abilities, alone or with God's help. I doubted the tag lines and the security wires. I questioned what idiot would hang out on a telephone pole 40 feet in the air.
I'm reminded of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14. He had faith to step out of the boat and begin walking. I too, was able to climb up into the trees without a problem. But then, we both began to doubt and thus sink. Only with total trust and focus could Peter walk to Jesus. The monkey bars were impossible to complete while clinging to my own security blanket. I couldn't afford to be both safe and successful. I wasn't really in danger, but I had to learn to trust my equipment and God to get me through. Thus this week I am learning to doubt less and trust more.
Am I ready for a repeat of the course? Well, not for a while. I can't say I enjoyed it per se, but I did appreciate the challenge and lessons that accompanied it. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment that followed! Hiiiiiii ya! I am alive, and Jon even took pictures for proof!