On the ropes . . . intentionally

Ropes ChallengeOn Memorial day, our family went with some friends to the Poconos to take on the challenge of a ropes course. I had no idea what I was in for but it sounded fun.

Since we are not a bunch to underdo anything, we elected to take on the full course. What I found is that they save some of the best and most difficult challenges for the end. Of course you always want to do the most difficult part after you become tired. Where is the challenge in doing the hard parts when you have fresh muscles and lots of excitement?

The hardest part for me was one section where we had to cross to the next tree by navigating a rope net that was hung vertically. It looks so easy in the movies when they climb similar nets on sailing ships, but I found it to be particularly difficult. I have a renewed respect for 18th Century pirates and monkeys.

Toward the end of the day, my forearms were hurting and my fingers were cramping because I was using them in ways to which they were unaccustomed. I was not sure that I could finish the course. My fear was that my grip would give out at a crucial moment and I would be one of the people who would have to be rescued by the guides.Yet, cramps and all, I pressed on.

We all made it through the course and have some stories to tell. Our effort may not have been pretty, we did not set a record time and all of us had a combination of elated moments and scary times. The outcome was never guaranteed, but we made it.

As an added bonus we even saw a black bear cub lumbering through the forest below us.

This morning, I look back on our adventure as a metaphor for life. In life, the results are not guaranteed, there are moments of heartbreak and moments of elation but somehow we muddle through. We may not be graceful in our handling of our adventure, we may not feel that we’re strong enough to make it but we keep striving until the end of the course.

For the Christian we have the added benefit of knowing that God is superintending the process and he promises to see us through to the end (Phil. 1:6). Jesus promised that he would always be with us (Matt. 28:20). When our Earthly adventure is done we can look forward to eternal life (John 3:16). We have an added dimension of security (perhaps analogous to the safety harness we wore on the ropes course) because of relationship with Jesus.

My experience yesterday reminded me that we have a gracious God who is with us every step of the way, even the difficult ones.