There I was, watching all my friends climb up and walk across the ropes with no problem.

I'd never enjoyed being in high places very much. So when I was at camp two summers ago, I wasn't planning to get too far on the ropes course. (This course involves all kinds of challenges and team-building exercises in the woods. Campers put on harnesses as they complete challenges high off the ground.)

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The part of the course our group was doing was between two trees, with three ropes attached to each tree. There was one rope to walk across, kind of like a tightrope, and then two on either side you could hold on to. The ropes were high up, and there were staples (footholds and handholds) on each of the trees which you could use to climb up to them.

I remembered the year before, when I decided to try the same part of the course, and I'd only gotten halfway up the tree before deciding to come down. This time, even though I was reluctant, my friends convinced me to go again. So I let the counselors harness me in. Starting up the ladder was easy, and the lower staples were really close together, so I climbed up that part pretty quickly. But soon the staples started to get farther and farther apart, and it was harder for me to reach them. I got to a point where I couldn't reach the next one. Then I looked down.

I was really high up, and all my friends and counselors looked very small. That's when I started to get pretty nervous. So I decided to give up. Just like that. I called down to my counselors and told them I was ready to come down. But they said, "Reach farther. You're almost there!" and told me how to shift my weight and reach with one of my hands. I moved up a step. But I was holding on so tight that my hands were hurting, and I was starting to get really scared of being so high up. I yelled down to the counselors again. Then they told me I was safe and could pray, right there up in the tree. So I did—even though all I could think was, "God is Love, God is Love." I kept on saying those words to myself, letting them calm me down.

My counselors began to tell me that God was protecting me wherever I was, and I thought about how that truth applied to my situation. Soon, I reached as high as I could and grasped the next staple, praying to myself and listening to my counselors' instructions and advice. I remember calling down to them a couple of more times, telling them, "I can't do it!" But they kept encouraging me.

Finally, I was able to pull myself onto the rope and started to walk across. It was difficult to do, since the rope was hard to balance on, and I was all shaky. But I remembered a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal. I said the first verse to myself:

In heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.

The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

(Anna L. Waring, No. 148)

In that moment, I felt confident that God was all around me, protecting me, and I began to feel very calm.

Over the next few minutes, I made it all the way across the rope to the other tree and then walked all the way back, backwards, before climbing down. My friends and counselors greeted me, telling me how proud they were of me. But I was mostly proud of myself for believing in God and learning how close He is not just to me but to everyone around me.

Up in the tree, I really felt God's protection, and I realized that I never could be separated from Him for an instant—not even by fear. After that experience, I completely lost any fear of heights, and have done many really exciting things way up high without any hesitation since then.

A few days after this experience, I completed a different ropes course, and even went hot air ballooning with all my cousins, thousands of feet in the air. It was one of the most fun adventures I'd ever had, and I wasn't afraid in any way. That's because I'd learned that God is always protecting me, even when my feet leave the ground. |css

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June 30, 2008

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