Ziplining Faith

Flying fox - cablecarWe were a church group on a weekend retreat.  We stayed at a camp site with outdoor games and a zipline.

I knew from before we ever set foot on the campsite that I was not going ziplining.  I will admit, I toyed with the idea, but in reality I knew I’d probably never do it.  And if my heart wasn’t willing before I saw the zipline, it certainly wasn’t after!

The zipline started far, far up a hill.  It traveled over a gaping ravine.  And it finished after a long tour of field.

All of it was bad to me, but the very worst was the ravine.  Somehow, falling off and landing (dead or badly injured) in a field was one thing.  But falling off and landing in a ravine was another.  The depth of the ravine and the height of the zipline together made me a bit ill.

I was one of only two in our group too terrified of heights to make the commitment.  I stayed below, at a picnic table, while my friends all took the long drive up the hill.  By the time they had climbed the tower, two of them were having second thoughts, though.  When one called it off, the other did, too.  They decided they’d rather go back in the truck than down a little cable suspended in midair.

I watched as my other friends–with different expressions and reactions–made the descent.  Whether they were mostly closing their eyes and clinging to the handlebars, or laughing and sitting comfortably in midair, I was impressed they had the courage.  Even so, how they ziplined reflected the trust they had in the process.

For me, I had very little confidence in the process, which was why I was on the ground.

  • I didn’t trust myself to put on the harness correctly.
  • I didn’t trust the young men running the zipline to clip in the handlebars correctly.
  • I didn’t trust the tiny, insignificant-looking handlebars to hold my weight.
  • I didn’t trust the little gray line in the sky to hold me.  I didn’t trust the ravine not to swallow me up.
  • I didn’t trust any bit of the process and I wasn’t about to get my feet off the ground.

My friends who had gone up but come back down had thought they were committed, but changed their minds when they saw what they were truly committing to.

Some of my other friends were mostly committed, but still a bit afraid.

Still others seemed used to sitting in the sky, and they seemed to have full confidence that the zipline would hold them and all would go well.

And then there was “Sara”.

I was so unprepared for Sara.

Teenage Sara was the youngest on our trip, and the smallest.  She had (I think it was) a broken collarbone from an injury she’d gotten before the trip.  She had every excuse and every reason not to zipline.  And yet she was the most eager of any of us to do it.

I have seen circus performers who have practiced themselves into being fearless.  But I have never seen anyone just be so fearless on a high wire as Sara was on the zipline.

She came flying down the cable.  She was so relaxed, her body was able to do extraordinary aerobics as she hung in the air.  She had no desire or need to grab the handlebars.  Not one particle of her seemed to be afraid.  She laughed and performed, and the ravine was like a speck not even registering on her joy radar.

I was awed.

I have no plans to ever zipline in my life, but I want to grow the kind of faith in God that Sara had in that zipline.

Although in this story I was sitting on a picnic bench below the zipline, in my walk with Christ I am on the zipline.  But far too often, I find myself white-knuckled, drenched in sweat, and shaking in terror as I worry over and over again if the ride is safe.

  • Does God really love me?
  • Am I really safe in His care?
  • Does He really accept my faith?
  • Is Jesus really willing to forgive my sin?

Instead of trusting fully, I let my fear that faith alone isn’t enough–and the ravine below– terrorize me.

Like my friends who ziplined nervously, I’ll still make it to my destination of Heaven.  But the joy and witness lost is too high a cost to pay.  So I want to learn to be like Sara.  I want to fly through life all-in, at rest in His grace, at peace in His security, and at joy in His love.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

Published in: on June 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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