The winds whip all around. The craft is so very small and the waves are so very large. The person you look to for comfort is missing, no, is there, but on the very troubling waters. He says come. You go. You doubt. You fall. And immediately he reaches to you.
This weekend we took our high school youth on retreat where we focused on that passage from Matthew (14.22-33). We challenged our youth to get out of the boat - to cast aside their doubts, fears, worries - to trust in God.
We also offered the opportunity to try the high ropes adventure course. Dozens of feet in the air, suspended by ropes, they walked across swinging logs, tight ropes, and made leaps of faith to catch a trapeze swing. Many succeeded. A few struggled.
But what amazed me was the girl who froze. There she was over 40 feet in the air. She was halfway across the first challenge - a rope to walk on and two ropes to hold on to as she walked. She froze. She tensed. As she tensed, the ropes started to sway more and more. It took her quite a while, but she made it to the stopping point. Then she faced that moment that we all have before - she was stranded. She couldn't stay where she was. She needed to go back across, to face all that she had just struggled through in order to make it down again to the ground.
I think facing the unknown can be much easier than facing known fears. She knew exactly how petrifying the experience of crossing that rope line was. She knew how difficult it would be. And now she was tired, emotional, and full of doubts. Yet, suddenly, she stepped out. Step by step, very slowly she began to cross. The last segment is the most difficult as there is an upturn to the rope and you have to climb even as you walk on that lone rope. The look of determination on her tear streaked face was so beautiful. Just as sudden as her beginning was her leap to the solid structure of the tower. She had made it.
I am in awe of her bravery, her determination. When God calls us to step out of the boat, into the storm, and onto the rocky waves we must find that trust, determination and faith. When those storms are all too familiar - crises at work, cranky family members, loss, doubt - it becomes even harder to face the storms with faith and courage. Yet, now, when I will inevitably hit those moments when I cry out to God, "Why God? How can I possibly face this storm? How can I possibly come to you now?" I know exactly what I need to picture in my mind - the face of that girl as she was slowly, steadily reaching the tower.