Friday, July 30, 2010

Choosing to Trust

I learned a lot from the recent Eco Adventure Tour that my husband, Bev, and I went on at the Scenic Caves in Collingwood. It involved a Tree Top Walk which was a 600 meter long walk over 8 inch wide bridges suspended from cables strung between 16 trees all at a height of up to 60 feet above the forest floor. Believe it or not it was actually my idea. I wanted an adventure. Perhaps I am having a midlife crisis or maybe I just thought it would be a good way to practice pressing through in spite of my fear. It’s not so much a fear of heights as it is a fear of falling but it tends to keep my feet planted firmly on solid ground and I don’t like having fear dictate the limits of what I do.

Of course I knew that the guides were well trained and the equipment perfectly safe. Every participant has two safety lines securely fastened to cables above their heads. I could have acknowledged the truth of all that and remained simply an observer. The true test was in deciding to act on what I said I believed. And so I climbed the steps leading up to that first platform on shaking limbs and looked out at that impossibly slender bridge swaying gently in the breeze.
The hardest moment was taking that first step off of the platform. It was terrifying. I felt a little like Peter must have felt when he took that first step out of the boat to walk on the water in answer to Jesus’ call to join Him in what He was doing. I knew that if I fell the safety lines would catch me. Jesus was Peter’s safety line and when he started to sink, Jesus saved him. It may have only been for a few steps but Peter actually got to experience walking on water. It all came down to taking that first step out of the boat. I scraped together every ounce of courage I possessed, made a choice and stepped out onto the bridge. I found it got easier as I went along and my confidence grew. I never quite managed to loosen my white-knuckled grip on the cables that ran on either side (the bridge was actually suspended from these), however I think that if I did it again I might relax enough to actually look around and enjoy the amazing view. It helped a lot having Bev as my “buddy”. He stayed close and helped me whenever I had to move my safety clips to a new cable. Never underestimate the value of friends when you face a difficult challenge.

How many times have I said “no” to things out of fear? Sometimes it’s a fear of failure or of rejection. I may acknowledge in my head that God equips us for what He calls us to and that He can turn even our failures into victories but when it comes right down to it am I willing to step out of my comfort zone? I may have missed some of the “walking on water” experiences I could have had because I was too afraid to trust.

My Tree Top Walk felt risky to me but the only real risk was in my perception of it. I was never actually in any danger. That’s something I need to remember when God calls me to do something and my fear rises up to paralyze me. Whatever happens He will be right there to catch me. I just need to choose to trust and take that first step.

Recommended Reading: “If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat” by John Ortberg, Zondervan Publishing, 2001

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Solid Investment...Great Returns

Sometimes when I am in the middle of a project and things are flowing well I begrudge every minute I spend away from my desk. Having to stop to prepare a meal or attend to any number of other everyday tasks seems a huge imposition. That’s how I felt about taking a whole week to go camping right when I was finally making progress on some of the goals I’d set for my writing. At the same time I also recognized how important it was that my husband and I have that time apart. We try to keep our lives simple and our priorities straight but it’s a very short step to the place where we are so focused on whatever task is at hand that our relationship gets put on hold and we count on shared history to carry us through. That might work for a little while but I know from past experience that it can wear thin in a hurry.

So last week I shut down the computer and Bev put aside his latest woodworking project. We packed up all the gear in our little nugget box of a trailer and set off together for the campground armed with plans to invest in something really important…us.

Jesus taught us that we need to set aside time apart with the Father in order to foster an intimate relationship with Him. You can’t put a value on those moments or hours you spend just being with Him, getting to know Him better, experiencing His love, gaining strength and finding comfort as you rest in His presence. Why should it be any different for husbands and wives? We learned long ago to keep short accounts in our marriage so that our vacations are not about dealing with issues that have been swept under the carpet for too long. For us, vacations are about being together in a place apart, fostering the spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy that we crave in our relationship.

This past week was special in so many ways. The teamwork involved in setting up our tiny home away from home…strolling together along the waterfront and watching the waves roll in…our shared delight in discovering a patch of wild blackberries ripe for the picking…my husband’s strong hand reaching out to help me over the rough patches as we scrambled among the boulders and crevasses on the Bruce Trail…lying close in the dark as we listened to the crash of thunder and the rain beating a tattoo on the roof of our cozy shelter…long talks about our hopes and dreams and the things God is teaching us…the courage I derived from knowing he was at my back as I conquered my fear of heights to do the kilometer long zip line off of Blue Mountain…shared experiences knitting our hearts together. We gained strength and we found comfort as we rested in each other’s presence. It cost us one week out of our busy schedules but we can’t put a value on what we gained in return. Love grows if you take the time to foster it. It’s an investment well worth making.