One of my favorite weeks at church camp was in 2006 when our youth group went to New Mexico. It was my first time in the mountains and it was beautiful. On top of a hill, there was a ropes course. At the beginning of the week, I swore I would not even go near that hill. Bu, the altitude must have gotten to my head because one afternoon during free time, I was being harnessed up to go on this ropes course. I’m a pretty confusing person. I love roller coasters, but I hate climbing trees. I went skydiving a few years ago, but wouldn’t jump off a 10 ft tower onto a blob at a church retreat last year. I don’t really understand myself and my ability to take certain risks but not others. Anyways, I climbed up the cargo net to get to the first platform of the ropes course (muttering under my breath the whole way about this thing called “stairs” and how useful they are from getting from one level to another.)
Already a little shaken up from the climb, the guy running the course secures me in so I won’t fall. It’s funny, these rope course things, you know in your head you can’t possibly fall. Yet, you stand up there on the platform, your legs are shaking, your hands are sweaty and your heart is pounding. And that’s all before you even step off the platform. I was in a pickle because nobody told me the first part of this ropes course was literally just a rope to walk across. I am not a circus performer, I do not do tight ropes. I do not do tight ropes 40ft above the ground. But there I was, city girl from Dallas all doped up on the New Mexico altitude, staring at this wire in front of me. The scariest part was that first step. I’m lying. The scariest part was the whole entire thing. Before I stepped off, the ropes guy said something peculiar “Why are you afraid? You can’t fall. Nothing bad is going to happen.”
Excuse me rope guy sir, I’m 40 feet above the ground trying to convince myself that stepping off an 8×8 wooden platform onto a 1 inch wide wire is a good idea. My brain doesn’t compute what’s about to happen. My body is shaking and my heart and stomach decided to quit their jobs and move south for the winter. So, a few minutes (okay maybe like 15 minutes) passed and I finally stepped onto the wire. My body went from fear to focused. I had a death grip on the rope my harness was attached to and I took one step at a time. One foot in front of the other. That’s all I could really do. “you’re okay. You’re doing fine. One step at at time.” I kept repeating to myself. I eventually made it to the other side and even made it through the rest of the ropes course.
Now I didn’t just write all that to relive a terrifying experience for the fun of it. (My palms are sweating, guys) I think the wisdom the ropes guy gave me is a lot like the wisdom we give each other. When I graduated college last year, it was a lot like my experience on the ropes course, only this time I was pushed onto the wire. Throughout this transition period, I’ve heard from others: “Don’t be scared! God’s got ya!” and is it true? Yes, absolutely. Scripture reminds me time and time again that God is good, and that I can trust God. I know He has a plan for my life, just like I knew I wasn’t going to fall off the ropes course because I was strapped in. I was secure. But knowing I was secure didn’t make me a stoic in the situation, I still felt scared. I think it’s okay to feel things. It’s human to feel things. Often, “Super Spiritual Marlie” likes to beat me up for feeling things. I hear stuff like “Wow, how come you’re scared about your job situation? You must not trust God.” Or “If you really believed God was good, then you wouldn’t feel this way.” What a silly inner voice to listen to. Especially when it starts to twist into a “God loves you less because you’re not totally calm about this situation.” All a bunch of lies.
My fear of the wire on the platform, turned into 100% focus once I was on the wire. One step, breathe, regain balance, take step, breathe, regain balance. If fear won the battle, I would have climbed back down that cargo net and never gotten back up. Instead, I did it despite my fear. The Bible is full of people doing things despite their fear. I think of David and Goliath. 3 stones in his hand, a crowd of people behind him whispering, a 8 ft man in front of him. Was he scared? Probably. But did he listen to his fear or God? He listened to God.
I think we have a choice. It’s not whether we fear or not fear something. Fear is going to be there cause we are human. But, I think our choice comes when we decide who to listen to. Fear says “Nope, quit. You can’t do it. It’s going to be awful. Everyone’s going to die. You’ll fail. Just quit. It’s safer and nicer if you quit.”
God whispers “I got you in my hands. Listen to me, and take one step at a time. Talk to me. I want to know your fears. I want to know your doubts and concerns. Don’t you let them become your god. I am God. Listen to me, I will never leave you. You are secure. Breathe and take it one step at time.”
I don’t know what rope you’re facing today. But please know, it’s okay to be afraid. Are you heavy laden with fear? Jesus wants you to go to Him.