Zip LinePosted March 1st, 2012
by Lona Bailey
The summer I graduated from college a group of us took a trip to North Carolina for a celebratory weekend. We roughed it for a few days in the great outdoors. We hiked, we rafted, and we swam off all our excitement as new graduates.
I have never been especially afraid of heights, so, yielding to peer pressure and the celebratory mood, I agreed one day to ride a zip line. However, I had never done this before.
I trudged up the steep slope to the top of the cliff from which I was expected to jump, then tried to catch my breath. I inspected the scene. Two of my friends were strapped to the cable pulley and, on the count of three, they jumped from the platform.
I watched as they whisked down the cable more than three hundred feet off the ground. It did look like so much fun. But then I looked down the face of the cliff and my enthusiasm fell right along with the angle of my vision. There was no way anybody was going to get me on that thing.
I let a few friends pass me in the lineup while I thought of reasons to just walk back down the same way I had come up. A few of my friends climbed the hill a second time to go down again, so I let them pass. This happened two and even three times.
Front of the Line
Suddenly, when it was discovered that I was the only one who hadn’t gone, I was pushed to the front of the line.
I clenched my teeth. I stood as far from the edge of the platform as I could. A friend hooked my belt to the cable and said, “OK, on the count of three you jump!”
“Wait, wait, wait!” I said. “I can’t just jump! You’re going to have to give me a push. But not until three, OK?”
“OK,” he agreed.
I gripped the ropes that came down on either side as tight as I possibly could. My heart pounded louder than the countdown. I was terrified. I looked at that cable stretching down into the valley.
“How far up are we again,” I asked.
“One . . .” My grip tightened. “Two . . . Uhhh . . . Three . . .” A firm shove hit my back. My feet left the platform and immediately searched in vain for something solid. I was airborne.
The cable’s angle was steep, and I’m sure I must have been going 50 or 60 miles per hour. My whole body tensed. I shut my eyes. My breathing stopped. My stomach was in my throat. I was sure I was going into shock.
Down. Down. Down.
Then at about the halfway mark, the cable angle began to flatten out a bit, and I began to slow slightly. I caught my breath. I opened my eyes. My stomach returned to its place. I began to feel the wind in my hair. I felt like I was flying.
It was wonderful! The smooth connection with nature was amazing. I was soaring with the birds. I let go of the ropes and extended my arms as wings.
Then I noticed the friend beside me in her belt. She was whooping and hollering with delight. Then I noticed I had begun to do the same thing.
We reached the low point in the arc of the cable and started to climb. We climbed as far as gravity would take us, and then began to fall backward like a pendulum. Back and forth we went until we came to a stop at the bottom.
I was a mess when we finally stopped, but I was in adrenaline ecstasy. I had conquered the zip line! It was the most memorable experience I had on that trip!
He is ready to push
I think back on that experience and it reminds me so much of my experience with God. So many times, I watch God work in the lives of others, and I think it looks easy! But, when I am the one hooked to God’s cable, and He is ready to push me from the platform into something unknown, it can be terrifying.
So many times, when God is prompting me to do something new or something out of my comfort zone, I try to cling to things that have little connection to my current situation—much like I clung to that rope handle. I held on for dear life, as though that handle would spare me from falling.
I was urged onto the platform, but not only did I have to climb onto it, I had to jump off. Sometimes I must just let go and allow God to shove me off my safe ground, so He can do something great.
I can still feel the tingle in my feet when I think of standing on that platform, completely vulnerable. In order for that wonderfully exciting experience to occur, I had to be vulnerable to the possibility of falling, while believing the equipment would keep me safe. I was forced to put my trust in the only things that mattered at that point: the cable, the belt, the pulley system. Those components worked together to produce a thrilling and safe—though nerve-wracking—ride.
Sometimes in our life experience we must leap—even when to do so seems terrifying. But if we are completely equipped in Christ, how can we fall? We may need a shove but if we trust God enough to get us up that steep hill, we must trust Him enough to get us down the zip line.
I remember looking back at the path I took to get up the hill, and mulling over the idea of just going back the way I came up, to avoid the jump. But it also seemed too steep to safely walk back down. The only rewarding way forward was the zip line. We should not try to retrace our steps through things that God has brought us through. We must move forward.
If your heart is hooked to Him, then soar! You may have to shut your eyes and hang on as tightly as you can, but if you trust His leading, the challenge will be beautiful. And remember, God is patient. It doesn’t matter how many tries it takes.