Earlier this week, I took my kids to Stone Mountain Park. Our year membership ends at the completion of this month and we wanted to use it one last time. The main attraction was Sky Hike, a ropes course whose levels are 12, 24 and 40 feet off the ground.
Heights are not something I am fond of. In fact, I get really nervous. A month ago our family completed levels one and two together. I inched along gripping the ropes as hard as I could. I kept thinking that if my kids could complete the course then I could as well. My husband and my oldest child continued to the third level that day . Ever since, my youngest has been asking to go back to complete level three. Earlier this week, we returned.
Our first stop at the park is Sky Hike. We start on level two. We gear up.
We step out on the course. My oldest child first, then the youngest and finally…I step out.
Take a deep breath.
A step at a time.
I can do this.
On the first platform, I am greeted by Artis, a Stone Mountain Sky Hike guide. The kids start the next obstacle.
“They do better at this than I do.” I say.
“You are doing great.” he says.
I appreciate the encouragement of the employee.
My mind knows the harness and the ropes will hold me.
My mind knows there is nothing to fear.
Afterall, these were the words of encouragement I had given to my youngest the last time we hiked the course. These words, granting a knowledge that the ropes would hold even when his feet slipped, had emboldened my son on his journey. Even in the midst of my encouragement to him, I was scared.
Sometimes, knowledge isn’t enough. Sometimes the fear, the nervousness, the discontentment continues anyway.
One foot in front of the other.
Don’t look down.
I continue on. It is easier this time. Experience helps.
A few platforms later, I notice Artis beside me. “Is this your little guy?” he asks. I confirm that it is. “You want to walk on the route beside him or do you want me too? This one is a hard one.”
“You can.” I say.
Artis walks alongside my son. He watches my youngest closely, giving words of advice and encouragement. I am thankful for Artis.
Standing on the platform, we ready for the next route and receive more advice.
Stay on the middle rope.
Don’t worry about the side ropes or the wood. They are just there to confuse you. Focus on the middle rope.
I complete the second level and send my kids off to the third. I am just not ready for that one yet. I watch them continue along. I am proud of their bravery. They trust the harness and the rope more than I do. Perhaps that is what Jesus means when He says we should come to Him like little children.
As I watch my kids on level three, I also watch Artis. He is encouraging others, giving words of advice. My children are no longer close enough to Artis to receive his advice. They are on a different level of the journey. I look and see another guide beside my children, walking alongside them and carefully offering words of wisdom. I cheer them on from below. “You are doing great! Keep going!”
I am reminded of what the church is like when it is at its best. At its best, it encourages others along the journey, giving advice for the journey and reminding them to trust the rope and the harness.
This post is by Michelle Norman, newly commissioned field personnel to Athens, Greece. Originally posted on the Normans’ blog, www.anotherdayalongtheway.wordpress.com.