Being a youth minister for the past thirteen years, I’ve done a lot of high ropes courses. I’ve watched young people overcome their fears and achieve goals they never thought they’d reach. There’s just something about a high ropes course that brings out the cheerleader in me – well, it doesn’t take much to bring out the cheerleader, but still, high ropes courses get me every time!
However, it wasn’t just about helping them reach goals and overcome fears – it was about me reaching goals and overcoming fears too. I remember walking across a log high up in the air holding on for dear life to the suspension line leading me to the other side. I remember hanging on a spider web of thick rope hoping my arms wouldn’t give out on me. I remember thinking – why did I want to do this again?? I remember hearing my name from middle school girls – they cheered for me as loud as I cheered for them.
The last part of most high ropes courses is a zip line. It’s always thrilling and exhilarating – but, you have to jump off the platform to get to that part. No one will push you off. Trust me, I asked…many times. You have to push off on your own. Some people have very little fear and they glide right off the platform and fly away. Others, like myself, find dropping off a platform to be very illogical and terrifying, even with all the ropes and harnesses attached.
Sitting on the edge of that platform was awful. I knew something wonderful would happen if I could just scoot myself a few inches off the platform. I knew it would all be okay. I knew the ropes would keep me safe. I knew it would be better to get off the platform and ride down to the ground. I knew all of this, but I was still so scared. I was sweaty and shaky and questioning my sanity. Then, some burst of courage came over me and, a few inches later, I was soaring through the air. So free. So life giving. So joyful. Just moments before I was terrified, and now…I can’t stop laughing.
Right now, I’m sitting on the edge. I’m sweaty and shaky. I’m terrified. I know joy and freedom are just moments away – only inches to go. And yet…I’m scared.
When I walked across that log many years ago, I remember singing to myself way up there. It was a song I often led with the youth during worship – I still sing it with my kids today:
I cry out for your hand of mercy to heal me.
I am weak; I need your love to free me.
O Lord, my rock, my strength in weakness,
come rescue me, O Lord.
It’s those songs that I sing over and over again that come back to me in times of joy and pain and fear. Today I’ve been thinking about this one:
Though my sorrows may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning
I’m trading my sorrows
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying it down
For the joy of the Lord
I’m sitting on the edge. I’m not alone though – I’m surrounded by people cheering me on. I hear their voices all around me – some from below, some right next to me. Other voices will chime in soon too. I’m on the edge. I’m scared and a little terrified, but so excited and ready for the ride. One, two, three…fly!