While visiting LA, I made a random suggestion to my travel mates that we should go zip-lining. They agreed and I booked the trip over the phone. Since it was somewhat of an impulsive decision and we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into.
After driving an hour up into the mountains we arrived at the zip-line office and began filling out paperwork which basically said: “You might die, but you can’t blame us.” Fair enough, I expected that.
Weighed down with pounds of harnesses and a helmet strapped to my head, I exited the office with style and my group hailed our transportation up the mountain. A white van pulled up and an exuberant man hopped out and said enthusiastically that he was a “skilled off-road driver.” I giggled nervously.
Ten minutes later as we drove/bounced/raced up the mountain, I realized that he was NOT joking. I quickly grew fond of my red helmet and expressed thankfulness for the seatbelt as our huge van bounced over the narrow and winding dirt road. The soundtrack for our off road adventure was Lord of the Rings.
When we reached the top, our tour guides gave us 2 minutes to process the ride which we had just survived. I’m not being dramatic, it was pretty terrifying. With the first line just a few feet before us and the ground 800 feet away, I was volunteered by my group to go first since I had made the arrangement for the group. I’ve failed to mention that my Mother was in this group, and she was not pleased with me at this point. Oops.
Anyway, after the guides gave us the zip-line tutorial, I stepped up to the platform, was hooked to the line, and told to trust my equipment before stepping off. I did it! It was exhilarating to look around a see the mountains and God’s creation surrounding me. I was even alright with looking down. It’s the closest experience to flying that I’ve ever had!
From the next platform, I could barely make out the rest of my group. They appeared to be the sizes of ants from such a great distance away. The guide that was with me joked that she could tell who was coming down the line based on the quality of the scream.
After my second line, I was pretty comfortable with the experience and really enjoying it. My comfort bubble was popped though as the guides announced that we had just reached the first repel. Yes. REPEL. My stomach dropped. Nonchalantly they demonstrated how you just step off the platform backward, and trust your equipment to lower you safely to the ground.
Everything inside of me was saying “Yeah right. Not happening. I am not stepping off this platform.” The guides tried assuring me that I would make it, by telling me that I had just finished zip lines which were 800 feet above the ground, and this was only 80 feet above the ground. I was not at ease. (As a point of reference, 80 feet tall is approximately 10 stories high.)
I was in quite the predicament as I was stubbornly waiting as the last person at the top of the platform. I couldn’t go back across the zip lines. My only option was to stay on the platform forever or repel down. Great! I had seen everyone step off the platform and vanish. It was my turn. They all encouraged me from the ground and shouted up saying that “The step off is bad, but the rest is fine!” As I inched my way backwards to the edge of the platform, I was paralyzed with fear-or close to it. The guide told me to squat and I did. The next moment I was sitting in my equipment 80 feet up in the air holding myself up with the ropes. “Loosen your grip!” I had to look at my hands to make them release my death grip so that I could begin my descent down to the ground.
During the rest of the day I went on higher, longer, and faster zip lines with no issues. I would do them again in a heartbeat! However, at the next repel I was just as scared as the first time and had to go through the same process.
When I think back on the entire experience I wonder why I was so enthusiastic about the zip-lines and so terrified of the repels. I had the same equipment, the same guides, the same encouragement, and even shorter heights. Why was I so greatly frightened?
I was afraid of the unknown.
When you’re zip-lining, you face forward and you can see where you’re going and what to expect. It’s okay even though you’re going fast and are hundreds of feet in the air. But with repels, you see nothing until you actually step off the platform. You’re literally stepping out into the unknown with no vision. You must fully trust your equipment and have confidence that the path to the bottom has been navigated by someone before who has your best interest in mind.
Through this experience God reminded me that I can’t just trust my equipment (Him) when I see (or think I see) what’s coming. I must trust Him completely and not rely on myself. I must have total reliance that He knows the perfect way and will hold me securely as He has before. I must trust him in the zips and repels of life.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
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