The sky was a deep blue as our team arrived at the zipline experience on a normal Monday afternoon. I would never say that I am a thrill seeker, and honestly ziplining has never been on my bucket list, but we had agreed to participate together in the challenge so there I was. As we strapped on the harness and lanyards, and pulled on the heavy gloves with leather guarding the palms, the instructor jokingly told us to put on our “brain bucket” and the picture that appeared in my mind was not so humorous. She double checked that the helmet was securely in place, we loaded up on the transport vehicle to make our way around the woods by a large spring-fed lake, arriving at the practice site for further instructions. We learned the importance of keeping our eyes on the guide, watching for the signals that would reassure us that we’re doing great, or command us to begin braking to slow our speed at the landing platform. The ascent up the steep stairs and across the skyline suspension bridge increased my apprehension about letting go and flying over the trees and across the canyon floor, but I knew that I had reached the point of no return and would have to follow through.
Our guide hooked the carabiners, pulley and trolley to the zip line cable, being very careful that we were always connected securely. The first zipline cable allowed us to go about 5 miles an hour, but it felt like a faster flight through the lush green tree canopy. I started braking before the guide’s signal, and she admonished, “It’s all about trusting me, you know. It’s really a lot like faith.” Such words of wisdom from a young lady a third my age! If I chose to brake too early there would not be enough momentum to actually get me all the way across, and I would have to use a hand over hand method to propel myself to the landing area.
Each leg of the journey got longer and the speed faster as we climbed more stairs, walked up flimsily-careening ramps, and looked down from the dizzying heights towards the forest floor below awaiting our turn to fly again.
Upon my return to normal life the words to the song Lean Back seem even more apropos:
You will never leave, Your love sustaining me, before I even knew what love was | You’ve brought me here to rest and given me space to breathe so I’ll stay still until it sinks in | I will lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful Father | Breathe deep and know that He is good, He’s a love like no other | Now I can see Your love is better, than all the others that I’ve seen | I’m breathing deep all of Your goodness and Your loving-kindness to me | And I will lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful Father | I’ll breathe deep and know that He is good, He is a love like no other | Capital City Music
There were so many revelations that came as I remembered the experience and listened closely to the words of the song. It is of utmost importance to trust your Guide. Without having built trust in the leading of our Guide, we will never feel free enough to leap from the safety of the platform. We’ll be forever “earth bound” and if we happen to find ourselves on the heights it will be a long and arduous trek down to get back to the safety of flat ground on foot.
Be in the present, enjoy the moment, not looking too far ahead or behind. Trust your Guide and the safety of being connected to Him. Each piece of your gear is carefully put in place and checked often for safety and to make sure it’s working properly. Adjustments are made as needed, and we actually hinder the way they work if we don’t allow our Guide to do His work in His way. If we don’t trust the leading of our Guide by leaning back, crossing our ankles and rolling into a ball, we’ll never build up the correct speed to make it all the way. He knows best! The zipline itself is like the boundaries of the path that the Guide places us on. Only He can see where we’ve come from, and knows exactly where we’re going. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him and enjoy the ride.
By the last leg we were told that we would be going up to 45 miles an hour, and on this one my body began to turn so that I couldn’t see the landing platform. My guide had to signal me to brake much more than on the other lines, and it was a harrowing yet exhilarating finish to an hour of outdoor excitement.
I now have new language for traveling with my God on this earthly journey. Much like a bird in flight, the highs and lows can be beautiful and scary and thrilling all at once, but as long as I stay leaning back and connected to Him I will safely make it home. I will continue to lean back in the loving arms of my Guide, breathing deep, knowing that He is good, loves me like no one else can.