Free Falling Faith

out n aboutA few years back I was working as a teacher’s aide at the private school where my children currently attend.  The theme for the upcoming school year was, “Walking by Faith.”  So as team building/faith building experience, all the staff were invited on an out-of-town day trip to a zip line course at a place called, Out n About Treehouse Treesort.  We were all going to get an opportunity to put our faith to the test in this fun little faith building adventure.

This was my first attempt at a “real” zip line. I say real, because we have a short zip line in our yard for our kids which is tons of fun, but it’s nothing in comparison, this was the real deal.  We started out by choosing a helmet and then being harnessed up.  We then took a short walk up a path to a wooded area where we were given the basic instructions for zip-lining and then given a short practice-run.  Soon thereafter the adventures began.  We zipped from tree to tree, sometimes climbing small ladders or footholds on trees to reach tiny platforms.  Some of them were even as high as 70 feet off the ground. While zipping along, we would sometimes reach zooming speeds of up to 40 m.p.h.

Talk about a thrilling and fun-filled experience.  By the end of the course I was feeling quite like Jane of the Jungle and ready to shout out my loudest “Aaaaahhhhhaaaa.” As an added bonus, we were offered the opportunity for one more “faith-building” experience on The Tarzan Swing.

To get a little better appreciation for this hair-raising Tarzan Swing experience, let me paint a picture for you. Still wearing the harness from the zip line, you are secured to an extremely long rope that is then tied to a tree high above.  You are then pulled backwards by another rope again secured above while holding on to two handles.  You are pulled backward and then upward 50 feet into the air by the opposite end of the rope which is attached to a golf-cart. Once you reach the proper height and the golf-cart has stopped, you are then given the signal to “let go” of the handles you are clinging too.

At this point you are plummeted down towards the ground at approximate 40 m.p.h., an approximate 3 G rush of force (according to the Out n About website) until you hit the end of the rope and are then are swung approximately 65 feet into the air. You then continue to swing back and forth until the swing begins to slow, at which point someone assists you until you come to a complete stop.

Ok, I remember this experience more so than the rest of the whole zip lining course. Why you ask, because it was definitely more terrifying.  I remember standing in line waiting my turn and worrying that I might literally “wet my pants” during my turn on the swing.  Needless to say, I did not wet my pants and I did survive.  I was shaking like a leaf when I was done BUT, I did survive.  When given a second chance at the swing, I went for it again, thinking it wouldn’t be quite as bad the second time around because I knew what to expect.  And just as I thought, it was still hair-raising, but not quite as intense.

So reflecting back on this “faith-building” adventure, I can find quite a few lessons I learned that day that can be compared with my walk with Christ.

1.  Just like it took faith to try the zip lines and Tarzan Swing, following Christ often means walking by Faith in the unknown too. Until your willing to step out in faith and  try something new, you will never know what God can do (don’t let fear ruin it for you). Fear is a killer of faith! Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6

2.  Before letting go of the handles on the Tarzan Swing, I was left holding all my weight suspended at 50 feet in the air and it was HEAVY!!!  Just like the burdens we try to bear in life, when we hang on to them without giving them to God, they tend to build up and weigh on us. Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

3. When I let go of handles and began the decent, I knew I was secured to the rope which was anchored to the tree.  I knew that the rope would eventually catch my fall.  This took faith in the rope and just like that rope, God is our eternal security. He is our anchor in life when the storms and the trails come our way. When we walk in obedience and faith, he’s got us, he won’t let us fall. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:19a

I like to be in control and I could probably say with certainty that most of us do. We feel like we have power when we are in control of situations.  But the more I grow in my walk with Christ, I find it so freeing to actually give up control and let God be in total control.  Because quite truthfully, can we really control situations anyways? When we try to do so, we are putting ourselves in the place of God.  I find that giving up control doesn’t just happen once, it is a daily surrender of myself to the will of God.  As different circumstances continue to arise in my life, again and again I must hand over my control to God’s will. When we do so, we find our trust is strengthened by a faithful God and we can truly rest secure in Him, knowing He is at work in all of life’s circumstances.

I think sometimes that when we feel things are out of control and decide to trust God with them, this is actually the BEST place that we can be.  God shows up on the scene and shows us that he’s been there all along and that only by looking to Him are we truly secure anyway.  He is the one who never changes, is always there and is working things out according to His plan for us. He’s the great teacher and I’m finding that in every circumstance, He’s always got something for us to learn. All we need to do is to let go, trust God and then relax and enjoy the ride. It’s a free falling faith into the arms of our everlasting God! He’s got ya!

Passing Through

crossing the creekWhen you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

Recently my family and I spent a week camping at our church’s annual Family Camp.  I think I should mention that we are one of two families that actually have a camp trailer.  So I kind of felt rather spoiled as I slept on a cozy bed in our trailer as the rest of the other families actually “roughed it” with their tents and sleeping bags out in the wild.

As always, I love and look forward to family camp because it is a week of unparalleled fun and together time for our church family like no other.  There’s the usual enjoyment of laughter and conversing of adults while the kids are cut loose to run,  play, ride bikes and enjoy the creek.  There are also outdoor board games and not to mention some of the other highlights such as sharing of meals, mid-week baptisms in the creek and nightly campfire/worship time. There really is nothing else quite like it (In my mind’s eye, I think it’s a tiny sliver of what heaven will be like).

The camp location is especially beautiful and unique as it parallels a creek and butts up against a majestic forest filled with ferns and redwoods. This particular time, the weather was a bit on the cooler side so there wasn’t as much playing in the creek as in years past.  Therefore one morning, I along with a dear friend of mine, decided we would take a few of the kids on an adventure hike.  We decided to follow the creek through the wooded area that also paralleled the road.

As we started on our hike, we soon found that it was going to be a real adventure indeed.  There was no pre-made paths to follow, so there were many areas that we had to weave our way in and out of the bushes, prickery vines and a mirage of tree branches going every which way but loose.  My teenage son led with a machete and chopped clearings for us to go through where there were no other ways possible.

There were certain points during our hike, where it became evident that we could go no further without crossing the water.  Once there was a narrowing of the creek and a very small tree trunk was growing sideways across it.  Thankfully we were all able to cross without any of us falling in.  After some time, there was another instance where we came to a place where we needed to cross once again, but this time there was no visible easy way to get across.

One of the kids came up with the idea of us throwing surrounding boulders into the shallow and narrow area of the creek bed and to form a bridge in hopes that we might be able to then get across.  We all thought it was a great plan and together began placing rocks into the creek.  After about twenty-five minutes it became apparent that all our efforts were futile.  Because the strong current in the creek, the water was now being diverted around our makeshift bridge causing the creek to widen and make a new path around our rock bridge.

So after our unsuccessful attempt to build a bridge, I suggested that we just take off our socks and shoes, roll up our pant-legs and wade through the frigid water to cross the creek. And that’s exactly what we did, we found the shallowest point and made our way across.  Upon crossing, my daughter’s best friend announced, “I think that should be your next blog post, that sometimes whether we like it or not, we just have to go through it.” She’s a smart girl, because that’s exactly how my brain works.

Well that day we all learned a valuable lesson that can easily apply to our walk of faith. It reminds of the scripture found in Proverbs 19:21 that says . . . You can make many plans, but the Lords purpose will prevail.  Sometimes we see difficult circumstances and we make our own plans to try to deal with them. We often use avoidance or fleeing because by doing so think we can get around difficulties.   But it’s kind of like our plan to cross the creek and stay dry, we had a plan, but that plan did not work out as we had anticipated and so we ended up having to go directly though it anyway.

God sometimes has to take us through the waters of difficulty (trials) to teach us and to refine us.  In doing so he breaks the patterns of sin in our lives and uses the difficulties to draw us closer to himself.  It is his ultimate goal that as we submit in obedience to him, that we will become more and more like him.  When we walk in trust and obedience to Him, He will bring that work to pass in our lives.  That’s what it means by resting in Jesus.  It’s putting your absolute faith and trust in him and trusting that in everything he brings us to (that he is right there with us) and he will also bring us through it.

The bible says in Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.  We can always trust that God sees the big picture and knows exactly what he’s doing. If we belong to him, his purposes and plans will prevail.

This life is like our pilgrimage to the promised land and we are sojourners just passing through.  There WILL be difficulties, there WILL be obstacles that try to divert us from the right path.  But when we walk in obedience, keeping our focus on Jesus, he will provide us with a safe passage to the promised land, our eternal life with him forever. Following Jesus in this life is the greatest adventure ever and the rewards are eternal and out of this world!

Numbering the Days

timeTeach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

Did you ever notice that when things are well planned out and in sync, that there is just a natural flow? Things get done and done well and in the end there is a great feeling of accomplishment. I don’t have many days like that, but I do have a few, teehee.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the best planner in the world and I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator in a lot of areas (something I’m definitely not proud of).  In the past I’ve used the excuse, “well that’s not my strong suit.”  But I believe when I continually feel frustration in certain areas in my life, that’s God’s way of telling me to consider my ways . . . and then I start asking him to help me to come up with a solution.

There are some days that when looking at my schedule, I can easily be overwhelmed with the endless list of things on my “to do” list (in my brain).  My husband is the list maker, he even makes lists for me (something that works for both of us).  Some days, there are so many things I want to accomplish and yet so few hours in the day to do so.

In the day and age in which we live, time is such a precious commodity.  I also think that the way we choose to use our time speaks a lot about what we value in life. We can either choose to use our time on selfish pursuits or we can choose to use our time for things that will matter for eternity.

Often the use of my time will waffle back and forth between the two. So many days, I end of scrambling from event to event which sometimes leaves me feeling drained and discouraged. I think that this is an area of my life that God is pointing to, something that I need to start being more intentional about.

In the scripture above, I think that numbering our days helps us to put a proper perspective on the brevity of life. I think the second part of the scripture which reads, that we may gain a heart of wisdom references that we would seek the wisdom of God to learn how to best utilize our time.

The thing God is showing me lately, is that if we don’t live life purposefully, we merely begin to exist.  When we simply exist, we run on default mode or auto pilot which is merely getting by, trying to make it though yet another day and doing so, everything becomes laborious and tiring!

In contrast of existing, is purposeful living!  I find purposeful living to be exciting and energizing! Purposeful living, is living with focus and with a goal in mind.  Purposeful living causes us to think long-term verses living in day-to-day drudgery. Purposeful living is all about planning and in the long run I think instead of less time, you end up with more time because you are being more intentional in it’s use.

Instead of letting the clock control our lives, we take control by seeking God’s wisdom daily for the best use of our time for his eternal purposes. We can easily waste time in worldly pursuits or we can choose to be intentional with our time which promises eternal rewards.