Every summer my husband and I take our youth group to camp for an awesome week of time with God and insane fun. The camp we have been attending for the past 4 years is in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. One of the activities of the week is a zip line. You know, the kind where you climb a 60 plus foot high wooden tower that shakes the higher you climb. The kind where you stand at the top of said tower with no railing on a tiny pedestal while some people you just met hook you to a tiny wire and expect you to jump off the tower and slide down the wire. Umm…what? You want me to do what? And you call this fun?
The first time I laid eyes on that tower, I was terrified. Not of the height. I am not at all afraid of heights. It’s a little strange, but heights don’t bother me at all. I actually like them. It’s exciting to stand at the top of the Empire State Building or a mountain, or even a scaffolding. I know, I know, I’m weird. What terrified me was the thought of actually making the climb up that tower and once I did would that tiny wire hold me.
I quietly asked the people running the zip line if there was a weight limit. Meaning, will this thing hold me up. To which they answered, the only limit is fitting into the harness and they had a big one. They told me this zip line is made to hold 3 tons. We could put an elephant on this zip line and it wouldn’t break. Ok, thanks, I guess.
Well, I have been around long enough to have not tried things out of fear of embarrassment or just fear. I know what that regret feels like years later when you haven’t had another chance to try it again. So, I talked myself into doing the zipline. I might never get the chance again, I told myself. Plus, I had a team of teenagers who were looking up to me. I wanted to be a good example and not give them an excuse to skip out on this adventure.
So, I climbed that crazy tower. Huffing and puffing the whole way. I still don’t know how In the world I managed to haul my big butt up the rungs from platform to platform, but I did. When I reached the top of that tower, I was exhilarated! Maybe even heard songs of victory in my head. But then the nice men at the top of the tower started to clip me into the tiny wire that would hold my and my harness while I slide down another tiny wire towards the ground at a very rapid speed. They were giving me instructions, and I was trying my best to hear them and comprehend them while being scared out of my mind.
The next thing I know, I am sitting myself down on the edge of this very tall, swaying tower dangling my feet of the edge. The man is telling me he is going to count to 3 me and then the youth next to me and I are going to jump off the tower and slide to our death…I mean to the end of the zip line. Excuse me, what? You want me to just jump off this wonderful solid tower? And put my life in the hands of this very tiny almost invisible wire? Ummmm…this seems like a really bad idea. And they call this fun?
This summer when I was at camp our lives where at a crossroads. We were climbing up a tower of change. We had decided to leave our positions as youth pastors and move to another state with a team of people to launch a new church. The decision to climb this tower was not an easy one. We never wanted to be church planters or pioneers. It’s a difficult thing to be the first one to do something. I mean most of the pioneers died on the journey or in the first years in their new homes back in the pioneer days. Yeah, seems like a really bad idea. However, after much prayer (and some arguing with God) we decided it was what God wanted us to do. So we were working on selling our house and finding jobs and housing in this new place. We were at camp for one last time with our youth group.
During on of the services on night, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of the zip line that was outside of that gymatorium. It takes real faith to jump off that tower and zip down that tiny wire. When you are on the tower you are still trusting in yourself to say put. Your legs and feet with the help of gravity, keep you there. But once you jump off there is no net. No one can catch you. All of your trust has to be in the people that placed you in your harness and the wires that are holding you up. You have to have faith that when you jump that wire will catch you.
I am proud to say that I have jumped off that tower more than once (one year I was pregnant and didn’t do the zip line for obvious reasons). Sitting on the edge of the tower is terrifying, but the scariest part is the first few seconds between when you jump off the tower and when your wire catches and you start zipping. It’s a few seconds of free fall that takes your breath away. It is terrifying! Once that wire catches and you start zipping down the line, it is the ride of a lifetime! Looking down over that valley with the wind rushing through your hair is exhilarating. It’s exciting, and amazing, and actually fun. The feeling when your finish and unhook from the wire is that of accomplishment and satisfaction mixed with adrenaline.
Living by faith is the same way. The Holy Spirit reminded me that as long as I was making plans and following the steps I thought were necessary, that I was standing on my own. Not walking by faith, but walking by sight. Just like when I was stood on that tower. Until I let go and jumped, I wasn’t going anywhere. I had to jump off and trust the wire to catch me, or I would never actually zip line and experience the ride of a lifetime. I couldn’t accomplish what I had set out to do when I started climbing that tower until I jumped off of it. It was time to stop talking about walking by faith and taking a leap of faith, and it was time to actually jump.
Well, I argued with God about that for awhile. It’s just crazy to leap without looking. To start packing without a buyer in place. To set a move date before securing an actual place to move into. He reminded me that no one ever had success in any of His plans without putting their full trust in Him and doing something crazy. Abraham, Noah, David, Jonah, Esther, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and the list goes on. When they tried on their own feet they failed, but when they stopped worrying about what others thought and did what God asked…they soared. Just like I soared above the trees on that zip line.
So we made the decision to set a move date and pack the house. A few weeks later we found a house to live in, I was offered a great job, and we packed the truck and jumped off the tower. The wire caught us. We are still riding this crazy ride and times it’s a little bumpy, but through it all God takes care of us. He has performed miracle after miracle, even ones that would seem so small to someone else. He is for us and not against us. He keeps us safe, and sometimes this ride is even a little bit fun.
I won’t lie, it’s still terrifying, but when I start to get afraid, I fix my eyes on Jesus. He is the author and the finisher of my faith.
There are few times in life when we are given a chance to do something truly exciting and life changing. Most days, we eat, sleep, go to work, take care of the kids, clean the house, pay the bills, watch tv, and repeat again the next day. Some days though, we are presented with a choice to do something truly daring. Something life changing. Something that scares us out of our mind. It may be to talk to a stranger in a grocery store only to find out they are hurting and need prayer. Sometimes it is to stop and pray with a coworker who is sick or hurt. Sometimes, it’s to show grace and mercy when others show you none. Sometimes, it is to pack up and move across the country to do something you never thought you would do.
No matter what zip line you face in life, don’t stay on the ground or on the tower, you will regret it and you may never get the change again. Climb up the tower of change even when it kicks your big butt. Jump off that tower no matter how much it scares you, and take the ride of your life. World changers don’t stay safely on the ground. Trust me, your world, no matter how big or small, needs your to be a world changer. Whether you are student, a businessman, a janitor, a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, a doctor, or the president, your world needs you to change it for God.
Try it. The ride is amazing!