What is Faith really?
This past weekend I had a chance to see a great metaphor of faith in action. My son Sam and I went on a Father/Son breakaway retreat at Camp Highland in the mountains of Ellijay GA. I highly recommend this for Dads wanting to connect and build amazing memories and bonds with your son.
One of the many nightmare-inducing adventures you get to experience with your son is a high ropes course. I’m sure many of you have seen or experienced these before- I had not before then and honestly was probably better off not knowing too much about it. The basic concept is this- you with no experience working in the circus, get to see what it is like with a rolling start. You spend about 30-40 minutes up amongst the tree tops, some 40-50 feet from the ground, walking tightropes, swinging from trapeze type obstacles and going from tree to tree. Thankfully you have a harness and are tethered to a thick cable that is overhead, running from shaky tree top to the next shaky tree top. But I need to remind you that at some point you’re going to have to unhook yours and your son’s tether clips and move them from one line to the next, all while standing on a deer strand and clenching for dear life to the tree trunk while unhooked!
It’s really not as terrifying as the picture I painted above- in fact, there are two tether clamps for your harness, so while you are unhooked from one and moving to the next tree line, you are still safe and sound while tethered to the previous line, should you fall off the tree stand while reaching out and overhead to hook the clamp onto the line of the next insane chasm. OK, so yes, it actually is still pretty terrifying! Many a Dad and son dealt with anxiety (remember the old movie High Anxiety?!) and a desire for the ‘adventure’ to be over soon, and for hours after you heard kids and Dads talking about their conquest over those fears they had.
One Dad brought up such a great point- while we are tethered to the line above, it was hard to trust it fully. I know found myself checking our clips (especially Sam’s) repeatedly to make sure they didn’t pop open somehow, and even checking the ends of each cable because who knows if it somehow came loose from the previous adventurers. Ultimately at some point I had to have confidence that the line, tethers, and harness were going to hold us and gave a quick tug as I ventured back out into the big top.
Isn’t that what faith is really like? I think it’s easy enough to have a general belief in God- a lot of people feel He’s up there, or at least think so. But without that complete assurance- that extra tug and check of the lines, it’s really hard to have the trust and confidence to walk out and face the adventure. If I didn’t have complete faith in the wires and harness, I would not have stepped out onto that wire or swing. And I certainly would not let my son go out into the world to face those dangers alone.
My faith in God must be that strong if I am truly to live and take in the whole adventure that He has planned for me. And it’s OK if I just check the lines here and there, make sure my connection to Him is strong. But ultimately at some point I must take that jump.
When we got to the end of the adventure, the final hookup was done to a giant zip line. And our final step of faith was to basically walk or jump off the last tree stand and plunge down into the forest. For me, having checked the lines, the tether clamps and the harness one more time, I jumped with abandon… Well, not really- I actually hung on to the strap from my harness to the line overhead the entire way down, holding my body weight up the entire time I dropped into the abyss (not unlike a pullup). I hope when it becomes time to trust God the same way I did that rope, that I can take that jump, and I imagine it’ll be OK that I hold onto Him tight, just in case.