Safety harness tightened and ready, helmet on, there she stood—50 feet above ground on the tree platform.
I was her instructor. It was her 40th birthday, and she was committed to overcoming a fear of heights. On this specific ropes course element, her task was to walk the cable while reaching for alternating ropes that hung above her head for balance. The ropes were strategically spaced out so that she would really have to stretch in order to move along the cable. Courageously, she began the challenge.
For this woman to move forward, she had to completely let go of the previous rope she'd been holding. It was impossible for her to reach the next rope while still grasping the one behind her. As I stood from the ground, watching her move slowly along the wire, her legs trembling—all the while safe in a harness—I was reminded of figurative "ropes" in my own life, and precious lessons I'd learned about trusting God.
Throughout my life, in times of decision making, I've turned to God's wisdom for help. I was recently presented with a job offer for the summer. This brought about a new opportunity to pray for direction. In order for this position to work out, it meant that a lot of logistical and financial hurdles needed to be cleared (i.e., subletting my apartment, coordinating with a grad school program, arranging enough funds, etc.). And although I was trying to listen quietly for answers, the mental "chatter" of all the "what if's" was, at times, distracting me from being able to hear spiritual intuition clearly.
As I prayed about what my right activities would be for the summer, the only answer I heard was "Do you trust Me?" My initial reaction was, "Of course I do, God, but I need an answer kind of soon!" Then I realized that this was a big opportunity to rely on something much more substantial than the pro/con list and timelines that I'd been so diligently developing in my head.
So I began to think about what trust really meant. Trust is often what people do when they don't know an outcome. Was I waiting to see how all those details would line up prior to making a commitment for the summer? Or was the understanding that God was directing my path enough to enable me to let go and make an inspired decision? If I needed to be sure of what was around the corner before moving forward, my actions would not necessarily be based on trust.
It soon became clear that there couldn't be any negative costs in trusting God's government. From past experiences, I'd learned that having a blind faith or practicing wishful thinking wasn't the same as being open to a growing understanding, a conviction, really, that God does know my needs. Not only that, but He is able to meet those needs at exactly the right times.
Just as the woman I was instructing on the ropes course moved along the cable, trusting that her reach would be great enough to grasp the next rope—letting go of the previous one—I had to let go of the notion that I needed to see how all the pieces of my summer would fit together prior to making my decision. Holding on to the "rope" behind me, while still desperately reaching for the rope that would help move me forward, would only get me stuck in an idle limbo.
After praying for a couple of weeks about the right thing to do, I realized that the question "Do you trust Me?" was enough of an answer from God to rely on. One particular verse from the Bible had also been with me during this time, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord" (Lam. 3:40).The pro/ con list I'd made had represented "my way." However, I saw now that my only true answer would come from turning right back to God.
Before long, it became very clear that the job opportunity was where I could give and grow the most. So I committed to the position for the summer. Within days after I'd made this choice, some amazing new doors opened up, solutions that I'd not even been aware of when creating my pro/con list. A few temporary work assignments presented themselves, a grant for school became available to me, and I met someone who offered to help me find the internship position I needed for my graduate program.
This was such a valuable lesson for me. I learned that my only job is to trust God and be a continuous witness of how He develops the good in my life. We may not always see how the pieces fit together, but when we gain a calm understanding that God's ways are so much better than our own, it's possible to let go of that "rope" behind us and trust that the one in front of us will move us forward.
And what happened to the woman I was instructing on the ropes course?
She made it across. And it was a very fulfilling gift—for her and for those watching her accomplishment from the ground,
This article first appeared on spirituality.com.
Kerstyn Battenberg writes from Newport Coast, California.
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