“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” 1 Peter 1:8
A few summers ago, I was given the opportunity to work on the high ropes course at camp.You can only imagine how many times I saw awesome moments of people conquering their fears. There are many wonderful things that God taught me up on that jungle gym, but there is one memory that really stands out.
It was in July during a period when not many campers had signed up to take high ropes. Since it was a smaller class, we were able to have camp families come through during this time. On this day, a father and his daughter, who could not have been more than five or six years old, decided they were going to go on the course.
I remember distinctly that I was sitting on the second level of the course when I noticed them coming up on the level below me. Right as you walk out on the first level, you are presented with three obstacles. One of these obstacles is a giant log, about twenty feet long, connecting two platforms together. The pros of the course like to hang out here and run across, but to a young child, this has got to be terrifying.
Think about it from this perspective for a moment. You’re at least fifteen feet in the air with only a log in between your feet and the ground. Nothing is protecting you from falling except a bunch of confusing ropes and metal clasps. This is an entirely new experience, in which you have no understanding that you will be okay if you do slip. It’s petrifying!
So I see this small child walk out onto the platform and I immediately notice the fear in her face. Her father is right beside her, but she looks terrified. They stand on the platform and the child refuses to move forward. I see her father speaking softly to her. He looked so peaceful and patient as he waited for his daughter. She would stick her foot out onto the log and then regress back to the platform out of fear. Her father would coax her forward and the process would repeat.
I am sure this experience must have been frustrating for the dad. It was hot and he was all suited up, ready to explore every level and obstacle of the course, but he couldn’t make it more than three steps off of the platform because of his child. However, there was no frustration in his demeanor. He was sweetly persistent and empathetic.
After about twenty minutes of the above-mentioned routine, I noticed the little girl putting both feet on the log. Her dad was walking backwards in front of her saying, “Just look me in the eye.” As that child watched her father’s eyes, she made it across the log. Everyone on the course was cheering for her, but the biggest smile came from her father.
This moment related to my personal faith in Christ. There are so many situations that are novel and unknown that pop up in life. These experiences are frightening. How do we trust that we will be okay if we slip? How do I know I can trust this path laid out before me? How can we be sure this new experience is good for us?
God asks us to trust Him. Even though we might not have tangible, fatherly eyes to look into, He asks us to trust His way is right and safe. He would walk backwards on a log high in the sky on a hot summer day for us if it would help give us joy.
He wants us to trust that He is with us, providing us with protection and strength through all of life’s scary journeys. It doesn’t matter that we show resistance to the way He knows is good for us, He is patiently, kindly persisting that we follow Him. When we make those decisions to go down His way, we are left fulfilled and joyous. But it’s God who is smiling the biggest.