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