"I can't do it!"
I scrambled onto the platform and wrapped a tight bear hug around the nearest upright post.
"I want to get down now!"
But behind me two women in harnesses and helmets were already clipped into the safety lines and moving my direction.
"There is nowhere to go but forward," the kid on the platform told me, and I knew he was right. Looking around, I could see no secret stairway to the bottom, no easy elevator ride to the wood chips below.
There is nowhere to go but forward.
I slowly put my left foot onto the tightrope. My left knee wobbled while I lowered my right foot to the wire. I felt that at any second both knees would buckle and send me pitching off the line to dangle helpless and unconscious from my harness.
My friends called to me from the ground far below, "You can do it! Just keep moving!"
I couldn't look down. I kept my eyes up and focused on where I needed to plant the next handhold. I proceeded slowly, and eventually established a certain, shuffling rhythm of placing my hands and moving my feet.
Grip left hand. Grip right hand. Slide left foot. Slide right foot.
Inch by inch I worked my way across the wire to the next platform. I still had three more platforms to go, then the big step and sheer drop toward the crowd of cheering bystanders below.
Inch by sickening inch, I crossed that ropes course.
I often feel I shuffle through life the same way. Trembling and uncertain, fearful that any misstep will cause my complete collapse and tumble into helplessness. But I keep moving forward because backward is never an option.
There is nowhere to go but forward.
The rhythm that worked to get me across the ropes course helps me move through life also.
Keep looking ahead. Looking down or backwards only causes overwhelming vertigo. Keep your eyes focused on where your next move needs to be.
Take small steps. Multiple small steps combine to cover great distances. Keep moving, even inches at a time, and eventually you will get where you need to go.
Cheer someone else. Everyone needs to hear that our friends want us to succeed. Encourage others and let them know you believe in their abilities.
At the final platform, I was clipped onto a belay line and told to jump -- just jump -- and trust the rope to lower me safely to the ground. In the end, we're all told to step -- just step -- and trust that God will deliver us to where we feel safe again.
That final leap was a jarring lurch forward and then a jolting, clumsy free-fall toward the ground. The harness left bruises, but I arrived safely and joined the cheerleaders applauding the next woman in line to jump.
What obstacle course are you inching through today? How are you staying focused while you slide your feet along the wire?
While I'm enjoying a week away with other YoungLives campers, enjoy this repost from my previous blog lizology101.
We waited for an hour, standing barefoot on hot sand, sunscreened against the July glare. When our turn finally came, we stepped into heavy wet harnesses, tightened the waist straps, loosened the thighs.
Then we walked to the other side of the lake, barefoot over grass and gravel, carrying the double-webbed straps with heavy cable clips slung over our shoulders. When we reached the zipline tower, we climbed uncountable steps, up and up and up -- to the top, where we were greeted by a teenaged kid wearing a harness clipped into a spider web of safety lines.
He clipped our harnesses into the web, and again we waited, eye-level with the tree tops. The tower swayed gently in the breeze, just enough to be slightly nauseating. Then came the awareness that we really planned to jump off from here.
"Stand on the box," the kid told us.
We stepped to the edge of the wooden platform, toes hanging off into air. The kid attached our clips to the zipline. He unhooked our safety straps from the web. We stood unsteadily on the edge.
"I can't do it!" my companion called.
"There's nowhere to go but down!" I answered.
I counted, "One, two, three, jump!" but neither of us moved.
I leaned back against the line to put tension in the harness, counted to three again, and lifted my feet.
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? . . . If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me, And your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7,9-10).
God always knows where we are, and he is always with us. Nowhere we go can escape the reach of his protection and love.
Sometimes we wait, wondering, for days or months or years for God's call to jump. Sometimes the call comes as a gentle nudge, sometimes a hard shove. At some time God calls each of us to take a big step. Then we have to trust in him and ride the line wherever it goes.
The zipline was a few screaming seconds before splashdown in the cold lake. Kicking, splashing, spitting water, I looked around for my companion.
I heard her beside me laughing, "Let's do it again!"
I pray you have faith to jump eagerly and often. What step is God calling you to take today?
"Look! See Mommy way up there?" I lifted the baby higher and swung his chubby arm in a clumsy wave. I don't know if his mother saw us from her perch high above our heads. She was focused on tiptoeing across a tightrope toward the platform 30 feet in the air.
Every summer YoungLives moms bring their children to Timberwolf Lake for a week of camp. Learning to navigate the high ropes obstacle course is one of the group activities the teen moms can tackle. Last year I stayed planted firmly on the ground and held a baby while his mother balanced precariously over our heads.
The ropes creaked and the trees rustled in the slight breeze. The metal hooks of the harnesses clinked as the women moved slowly through the course.
Some ladies clung to the upright supports and cried, but the mom I watched made the journey look easy. She practically danced across the swinging rope bridge and the single rope trail. At the end she faced a sheer drop to the ground. She gave one hysterical shriek as she slipped off the platform and rode the ropes gently back to earth.
Though I watched last year from the relative safety of the forest floor, I recognize we all perform a similar balancing act of grace and endurance. Whether we hold back and cry, or leap forward with joy, all our lives are a high ropes course of stamina and strength.
We walk a narrow, wobbly way of instability and uncertainty. The ground beneath our feet seems constantly shifting. Circumstances change. Dreams sometimes disappoint. Expectations can explode. We have only two choices: freeze in place and hold on tight, or keep moving slowly forward.
We have to trust we are clipped in correctly. No harness or helmet will protect us from the pains of daily life. No safety net will catch us if we fall. Money, resources, and relationships are never guaranteed. God is our only security. His Spirit holds us close, and his support system of guidelines leads us safely to the end of our adventure.
We have to keep trying. We have to take one tentative step, then another, then a few more.
"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
When we face our fears, we build courage. When we accept new challenges, we learn new skills. As we realize each success, we grow in confidence and discover the depths of our abilities.
We all face the final leap of faith. We have no choice but to let go, plunge forward, and believe that God will catch us in the end.
Last year I stayed on the ground with the babies. This summer I plan to walk the ropes and learn what is waiting for me beyond the final drop. The best part of freefall is the freedom.
What ropes are you walking today? Who is holding you as you make your way?
I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and shut off the water. I dried off and got dressed while trying to keep my towel and clean clothes out of the puddles on the floor.
When I had walked from our tent to the shower building in the middle of the campground, the sun was just beginning to set. When I pushed open the shower building door and stepped outside, the sun had fallen and the campground was dark.
I was twelve years old and raised to be independent. I was used to walking all over my small hometown alone, and I wasn't afraid of showering alone in a strange campground.
But now the campground was dark, the only light shining from the poles around the shower building. The gravel driveways to the camping sites radiated out from the center in all directions. Each driveway looked the same, a gravel path lined with tents and RV's. I picked the path I thought led back to our tent and started walking.
My flip-flops crunched quietly on the gravel. Campfires flickered on both sides of the road, surrounded by strange and shadowy figures. I heard laughter in the distance, and music from a far-off radio.
I walked slowly to the end of the road, but I didn't see our tent or station wagon, so I turned around and headed back toward the lights of the shower building.
I chose again and walked a different path. I saw the same dark night and flickering fires, but no familiar tent or car. I turned back and tried again, over and over, moving faster every time, fighting the rising panic in my heart and the choking tears of fear and confusion.
Finally, I turned and hurried to the shower building to try again. A flashlight beam bobbed toward me through the night, and my brother asked, "Where have you been? It's dark out here."
I have walked many paths in my life. Often I start out feeling confident and sure of my destination, only to wind up wondering where I am and why nothing looks familiar. Many times I have turned back and started over, trying again and again to reach some goal that seemed shadowy and unclear.
If I had stayed near the light and safety of the campground shower house, my brother would have found me, and I would have been safe in my sleeping bag much sooner.
If we stay still and keep calm, God will come to find us. He is always out there searching, and he will lead us on the proper path toward home.
Have you ever felt lost and afraid? How did you get found again?
In an episode of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing, Mike confronts his daughter Mandy for taking her nephew's ADHD medication to score better grades on her college finals.
At first Mandy becomes indignant and denies taking the drugs. "Other students use ADHD meds to study and take tests, but I wouldn't," she insists.
Mike says nothing, but fixes his daughter in an unwavering gaze and waits, patiently.
"But it would only be fair if I did, because if you don't, you're basically at a huge disadvantage," Mandy reasons.
Mike frowns, but stays silent.
"If I had taken them, how would that be any different than energy drinks or coffee?" Mandy asks.
Mike watches her.
"But I didn't take them."
"OK. I took them."
Mike knew his daughter, and no amount of denial or evasion from Mandy could conceal the truth from being revealed.
God knows the facts about each of his children, and no amount of denial or evasion from us can hide the truth he already knows.
I've confessed in an earlier post that I battle an anger problem. Beneath my sweater-soft exterior lurks a fury that has been known to hurl profanity and plates with equal abandon. Just ask my husband.
Today I prayed, "God, I am angry, and you are unfair," but embellished with many expletives and exaggerations. And I know my outburst was no surprise to God. He already knows my nature and has been watching my temper tantrums for many, many years.
But I was surprised, because once I named it, my anger felt easier to tame. Once confessed, my feelings seemed easier to control. After pouring out my heart to God, I calmed and did not throw a single plate.
God wants to hear our true feelings in prayer, because feelings revealed are often relieved. He is never surprised or offended by our honesty. When we confess all to him, God is faithful to forgive and set us right again. He watches and waits for us to come clean, because he cares and he knows the truth will always set us free.
What are your honest emotions today? God wants you to share all your feelings with him.
At 2:36 a.m. a creepy grating noise nudged me awake. The annoying, crunching sound vibrated through my dark bedroom.
What is that?
I heard the noise again, hard as teeth grinding on metal.
It's under the bed.
I sat up and saw a dark shape streak from my bed toward the dresser. I scrambled to my knees and saw the shape slide under my bed again.
I snapped on the light and discovered my daughter's gerbil had escaped from its cage and burrowed into the box-spring of my bed. The creepy noise was the gerbil sharpening her teeth on the metal coils.
I rousted my daughter awake. For a while we knelt on opposite sides of my bed and made sleepy grabs while the gerbil darted back and forth between us.
"Get out of the way."
I threw quilts and blankets onto the dresser, flipped the double-sized mattress up against the wall, then hauled the box-spring out of the frame. The gerbil continued to evade us by scurrying among the dust bunnies and the shoeboxes knocked sideways in the chaos.
I dumped dirty laundry into the corner, overturned the plastic laundry basket, and slammed it down, trapping the gerbil underneath. While I tried to figure out a way to move her from the basket to the cage, the gerbil was already chewing her way through the plastic bars. I slipped my hand under the side of the basket, but the gerbil bit my finger and dashed away.
This time the gerbil made the mistake of hiding in a shoebox that had gotten tipped on its side during our pursuit. I slapped the lid on the box, scooped up the box with the gerbil inside, and dropped her back through the open door of her cage.
I knew the gerbil belonged in her "Happy Hamster Home" with climbing tunnels, running wheel, and food and water dispensers. I knew there she was safe, comfortable, and always well-fed.
God knows where we belong and what is best.
When we stop running around in the dark and trust in him, he promises to take care of us and give us all we need.
When we try to outrun or hide from him, God pursues, until sooner or later, we get scooped up and placed exactly where we are meant to be.
How is God pursuing you today? Where is he telling you to stay and trust?