Zipping Through Life
A couple of weekends ago, I surprised a few people, (especially myself) by agreeing to go zip lining in the Poconos. I was under the impression that we would simply be zipping through the trees the entire time. Imagine my shock to learn that we would also be tackling 3 different sets of obstacle courses along with the zip lining, and the entire ordeal (I mean adventure) would last three hours. The obstacles included things like walking across steel cables, spinning logs, swinging planks, rope swings, net bridges, small unevenly spaced slats, and even an apparatus that looked like a skateboard that rolled across cables.
I should point out that I am NOT an athletic person. Few are the times my muscles have ever really been pushed to their limits. Growing up with asthma in the 1970s is sure to blame! The general thinking at the time was that asthmatic kids should not participate in physically strenuous activities, and so I never played any sports. I was practically banned from gym class until I got to high school. To this day, I am still very awkward when it comes to any sport related activities. My zip lining adventure proved to be not only physically taxing, but spiritually enlightening as well.
Looking back on the day’s activities, I noticed some parallels to life. For starters, I never felt like I had what it took to make it across. Every time I looked at what I needed to overcome to get to the next tree, I was plagued with doubts about my strength or ability. Each time I was surprised at what I was able to do, once I dared to go for it.
Something else that stood out to me was the incredible power of encouraging words and support. Often the thing that helped get me to the other side were my friends cheering me on and letting me know they believed in me. Even when I couldn’t see them through the fog and distance, I could hear them calling my name and letting me know they were waiting for me. It was like a fresh wind in my sails propelling me on.
The greatest lesson I learned that day though, was that I do not go through this life alone. Our group was assigned a guide to show us the way and help all of us get through the adventure safely. He knew the course well, knew what was ahead and which ones might be especially challenging for us. He did not, however, stay at our side throughout the entire course. Sometimes he was ahead of us, demonstrating the best way to get across. Other times he stayed well behind the last person, watching us all make our way to the next tree. But always he remained within calling distance.
When I came to the last obstacle, my body seemed to audibly groan at what lay ahead. A series of small, swinging logs held up by a rope on either side. Weary at this point, my arms and legs felt like noodles, my empty stomach producing waves of nausea. The thought of contending with this last obstacle was almost too much to bear. I thought I might collapse in the middle of it. My husband, who had patiently been at my side, reminded me that this was the last thing in the way of my final zip down the tree. One log away from finishing, I came to the absolute end of myself. My legs could not settle the swinging apparatus and my arms had no strength left to hang on to the ropes. I uttered a single “I need help” and our guide was instantly at my side, steadying the logs so I could reach the safety of the tree. How like God that was! Not always visible, but ever present–at times seemingly afar off, but there when you need Him most. The key is to recognize that we can’t do it all on our own; neither were we ever intended to.
As for any tree top adventures in my future? Highly unlikely! While I was proud of myself for having persevered and completed the course against all odds, The aftershocks of that intense physicality stayed with me for days afterward. For now, I am perfectly happy keeping my feet firmly planted on flat, immovable ground!