Heights never really bothered me much growing up...as long as I had a strong foothold and a rail to hold on to. The older I get the more uncomfortable high places make me. If I don't have a strong foothold and something to hold on to, forget about it. 3 years ago when I first went to Highland Lakes Camp as a counselor I had every intention of participating in the zip line with the kids and other counselor. I climbed half way up the 44 foot tower atop a hill, felt it moving, and promptly climbed back down.
This year was my first time back at camp since then. I knew I wanted to conquer my fear but I wasn't sure I could.
During our quiet time on day 2 we studied Matthew 16:24-25. Our guide booklet explained the verses in this way: "Jesus is saying that if we want to join with him in livingn the greatest adventure, we must be willing to let him call all the shots, to let him be the leader of our lives." We
were then to pray to God and ask him what's one adventure He wants us to do before we die. And "what's one adventurous thing He wants me to do this week?" I kept feeling like He wanted me to participate in the zip line, then I doubted that He'd really care one way or another whether I did that. I couldn't figure out what one silly activity had to do with what God wanted from me. I didn't participate in the zip line that afternoon when some of our group did, but I just couldn't let go of the feeling that this is something I was supposed to do.
On the last full day of camp I signed up at breakfast to participate in the zip line, thinking that if I decided at the last minute not to go through with it, it wouldn't be a big deal. When the time in the afternoon approached for us to trek down to the course, I was still considering whether I'd actually go through with it. Halfway there, one of the students realized Marty was still in his flip flops, which aren't allowed on the zip line. He ran back to change and the rest continued on while I kept thinking "he doesn't need to take the time to do that, we don't HAVE to go" but we continued on and I didn't voice what I was thinking.
We arrived at the course early, just as the workers were about to take a break. Marty wasn't back yet and they said it would be about 20 minutes before we could go up. They offered to let us go quickly since there were so few of us and they could take their break afterward but I explained we were waiting for our other counselor. As I waited and looked at the tall tower my anxiety increased and I had more and more time to doubt what I was about to do and almost got up to leave. Then Marty came around the corner ready to go. I told him I wasn't sure I could do it. He encouraged me and told me to go get the harness and helmet and climb up. He said if it gets bad to climb back down. So, trembling, I got my gear.
I began to climb up, refusing to look either up or down, only looking at where to place my hand next. Marty was talking to me from below but I have no idea what he said. I was concentrating very hard on each step and holding on tight.
When I reached almost the top I was startled to hear voices that seemd to come from right behind me. I looked up slightly and saw the top of the tower ladder.
What was next was even harder for me than the climb. Marty knows I never stand on the very top of ladders because I'm never sure of my footing there with no more ladder to hold on to. That was what the top of the tower ladder felt like too--but 44 feet in the air. I had to step on the very top rung, grab metal rings above that to hold on to and move from the ladder to the platform of the tower.
By the time I was standing on the platform I was shaking so hard and breathing very rapidly. I told the workers I needed to sit down. They had to move my ropes from my harness and hook me up to the zip line first.
Then they told me that I had to sit on the edge and dangle my feet over the edge! Are you kidding me? I just wanted to sit down in the middle and gather my wits and calm down before going near the edge. No such luck. As I was being persuaded to the edge Marty arrived to the top of the tower behind me and all 3 men just sat on the edge with me until I was ready to fall off. I was to lean over the edge from a sitting position and just fall. I wasn't sure I could do it. It looked so far.
I asked Marty to help me remember the scripture we'd read the day we were to write down the adventure God wanted us to do. Neither of us could recall it so one of the camp staff said Philippians 4:13 helps many who are afraid at the top. That helped tremendously. This verse is one I know well and remembering the words "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" was just what I needed to have the courage to take the plunge.
The men began to count to 3. I didn't wait for them to reach 3, at 2 I went for it. It was a scary feeling falling and waiting for the harness to catch me, but I quickly relaxed a bit as it caught and I sped downward.
As I slowed my descent at the bottom a staff member brought a set of stairs so I could climb to the ground. As I stepped onto the stairs I was shaking so hard the entire stairs were shaking.
Of course Marty and my youth got a kick out of that, but I didn't care. I DID IT! I might even do it again, but most of all I'm just glad I listened to God and let Him help me push through the fear and prove that He could get me through any adventure He sends me through.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.