One Saturday afternoon, on a break from speaking at an Austin conference center, I followed a group of conferees down to the lake to watch them zipline across it. One by one, each of these limber, young women geared up in a harness and helmet and then climbed the telephone pole to the platform that hovered 15 feet above us. On a count of three, each jumped off, gliding down a wire that crossed the lake. They were fun to watch, and when they invited me to follow them, I said, “Sure,” never expecting that I would soon run into a little snag.
My problems started on my climb up the telephone pole. It seemed that each time my foot groped for the next peg, I’d kick it off the pole. But no worries; my young, lanky friends came to my rescue, shimmying up the pole to replace each peg I knocked down.
By the time the zipline master clipped me onto the wire, my heart was hammering so loud I couldn’t hear her command to jump. Instead, I heard the voice of my mother: “So, if all your friends were to jump off a cliff, would you jump too?”
I tried to clear my mind and focus on the jump as beads of sweat trickled between my shoulder blades. I swayed in time with chants of the women below me, “One, two, three . . . jump!”
Not a chance.
But my problem was that, though I was terrified to jump, there was no way I would even think of climbing back down that telephone pole.
The zipline master suggested, “Stop looking down. Close your eyes and push off the edge of the platform, just as if you were pushing toward God.”
I closed my eyes and recited the chant, “One, two, three . . . jump!”
Suddenly, the wind fingered through my hair, and I opened my eyes to discover total bliss as the peaceful lake rushed beneath me. Soon, I fell into waiting arms on the platform on the other side of the lake.
Trusting God is a lot like leaping into the unknown. It’s hard to do when you’re focusing on your fears. The solution? You have to close your eyes and trust God as you let go of everything else.
To commemorate my jump, I paraphrased Psalms 23.
The Lord is my zipline master.
I shall not want to scream.
He makes me to harness up in the green pastures.
He leads me to glide over still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me up telephone poles of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yeah, though I fling myself through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will not fear falling.
For you are belaying me.
Your ropes and clips, they comfort me.
You prepare a launch pad before me
in the presence of both friends and enemies.
You anoint my hair with wind.
My endorphins runneth over.
Surely other zipliners will follow me—
All the days of my life
And I will glide in the afternoons
with the Lord — forever.
So remember, the next time you’re paralyzed by fear, stop focusing on that fear and push toward God. That’s the only way to make that leap of faith.
Based on a story in When You Can’t Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence by Linda Evans Shepherd, from Baker Revell.