Years ago, when Ted and I were Young Life leaders in Florida, we’d take a busload of high school students each summer to Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in North Carolina. Nestled in the mountains 15 miles outside Asheville, the camp offered a beautiful setting for many teens to experience a life-changing week–one full of fun, risk-taking and simple, clear messages about Christ.
Ted and I loved those trips. The kids were awesome, and each day offered a new adventure–zip-lining, blob-jumping, horseback riding, playing mud football games, and maneuvering the dreaded ropes course, to name a few.
The ropes course,a short hike up a nearby hill, was made up of cocoons, tight ropes, and swings strung between a group of trees. Each person had a rope around their waist that had to be connected to various points along the course. The course was a challenge, but not too scary until the end when each camper was faced with the final drop. There was a camp worker sitting on a small ledge and each camper would sit in front of that worker who would put their arms around the camper until they were ready to jump. Each person was attached around the waist to a rope swing, but the jump was a freefall of 50 feet, and sitting on that ledge thinking about the jump, fearing that jump, seeing the ground so far below, was frightening.I knew the end result was a fantastic swing ride, but the longer I sat on that ledge thinking about the jump, the harder it was to take the leap. Some campers would jump right away, others sit for 10 minutes thinking about it and then jump, and still others just could not do it and would chicken out.
As leaders, we cheered our campers on and of course, as leaders we had to set an example and be the first ones to go! I hated that jump. Every year I dreaded it; what if the rope broke? (Nevermind that it had never broken for ANY camper) As I fell I felt so out of control, so helpless, like nothing was supporting me. Thank God the freefall was only 2-3 seconds, although during the drop it felt like forever. But in reality, I barely had time to blink before I was rewarded with a swing through the trees. As the breeze blew through my hair, I was so relieved that once again I had survived the jump.
The rope swing was one of those experiences we leaders turned into a teachable moment, talking with our campers about how taking the leap to put our trust in God was a lot like taking the leap off the rope swing.
I’ve been thinking about that ropes course jump lately. It seems like God is taking our family through something that feels like a freefall, a jump we were forced to make off the safety of our status quo ledge. We feel so out of control, so helpless, like there is nothing to keep us from a very rough landing. The fall may be only 2-3 seconds in God’s eternal time frame, but to our family, it seems to be lasting forever. We know that when the freefall is over, we will sway joyfully on an exhilarating swing. I will feel the breeze in my face and say, “Wow! God! What a jump! But boy am I glad that it’s over!”
I know God’s rope of provision and protection will not break. I know He did not push us off our comfortable ledge to watch us crash to the ground. I know that as we drop, He is still holding us even though the rope is not taut and we cannot feel His support. I know that even though we feel helpless and out of control, He is holding the rope and He will never let go. He wants us to trust Him as we freefall and then when the fall ends, we will enjoy the reward of swinging through the trees with
breezes of relief surrounding us.
Are you in a freefall too? Hang on to the rope; the swing is coming soon!