Last year we went to church camp for our family vacation. We had an absolute blast and our kids have been asking to go back since before we even left the camp. We are ready to go back too. I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing the camp was for our family. We went not knowing what to really expect or what we would get out of the week at camp, but I can tell you the things we learned that week have really stuck with us. The things we learned that week just keep popping back into our lives almost daily. The lesson that keeps popping into my mind lately is about a leap, a promise, and obedience.
Buddy Bear is not really our adventurous child. He is the one we refer to as our "black and white" child because there is not a large (if any) grey area with him. He is very practical, follows the rules, and really weighs all aspects of a situation before taking action. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining because these qualities have saved him a lot of skinned knees, bumps, and bruises over the years, but these same qualities have stopped Buddy Bear in his tracks too. The practical, non-risk taking side of him has stopped him from trying new things because he starts thinking too hard and worries about the "what-ifs" of a situation rather than just being open to trying new things. A prime example of this is the time we went on a cruise. There was a water slide aboard the ship that featured a see-through slide that went over the edge of the ship. It took almost the entire cruise to convince him the water slide was safe, the cruise line wouldn't put it on the ship if it wasn't safe, and he had to try it once. He finally tried it the day before we got off the ship and he loved it like we knew he would. As we left the ship he was really upset that he had not spent more time on the water slide.
Anyway at camp there was a zip line. Kids from our church have told him all about it and how much fun it was. We started talking about going down the zip line long before we got to camp. Buddy Bear had decided he wanted to try it. As we were driving into the camp, we spotted the zip line and someone was going on it. We watched and asked Buddy Bear if he wanted to go on it. The response he gave was "NO WAY!" We calmly talked to him about it and reminded him that we had discussed this before camp. There were going to be lots of opportunities to try new things and he couldn't dismiss them before we even got unpacked. We just couldn't let his fears and worries stop him in his tracks. If we let him live this way, he would never try anything. So we usually sit down and talk through a situation and encourage him to think about them and then try them just once. If he really doesn't like the experience he doesn't have to do it again, but most times we find that he ends up truly enjoying the experience and wants to do it again (i.e. - dirt biking). It took us almost all week to convince him to just try the zip line once. His worries/fears were that it wouldn't hold him, he would fall, what if he didn't like it. We discussed each and every one - if it wouldn't hold him they wouldn't let him go on it, if it wasn't safe they wouldn't have even been allowed to have one at the camp, and you can't know if you will like something until you try it. This still left him unsure. So I did something drastic. I made a deal with him. I told Buddy Bear if you try the zip line at least once, I will zip line at least once too. Now I have to take a moment to explain that I am much like Buddy Bear. I am very practical, weigh all the options before making a decision, don't take a lot of risks, and I think about the things like what if it won't hold me. I blame this character trait on my upbringing where we had to learn to be responsible at an early age. Anyway the deal was if Buddy Bear would try the zip line, I would too. So all week long I encouraged him to try it. I was excited to try something new and I knew deep down that Buddy Bear would really like the zip line.
Finally one of our last days of camp, Buddy Bear decided that he would try the zip line just once. I am sure he was feeling a little nervous because I was feeling a lot nervous. The only thing that kept running through my head was I had made a promise to our son. So he got all the gear on and so did our friends. There was not enough harnesses for me to get all geared up on the first go of the zip line. I told him to go ahead and go with his friends. I would wait for a harness and then go with him. He got all geared up, made the zip line worker check the harness, made us check the harness and headed up the hill. I sat at the bottom while J took Buddy Bear and Baby Bear up the hill to get to the top of the zip line (Baby Bear had been wanting to zip line too, but she is the super duper adventurous child and not a lot scares her). I watched and waited as the kids all started zip lining one by one. I saw our friends come zipping by, I watched Baby Bear laugh and cheer as she went zipping by, and then it was Buddy Bear's turn. He got up there, took a deep breath, and jumped off the platform. I was worried the whole time because the look on his face said he was not having fun. He got down and ran up to me and said, "Mom, it's awesome!" I was shocked, I honestly thought he just wouldn't like it but he did and I was so glad I had encouraged him to step out and try the zip line. Soon enough a harness was available and I got all geared up and headed up the hill. I got to the top and it was very quickly my turn, I looked off the platform and I had to let some kids go in front of me. I was struggling. I truly thought I could not jump off of that platform. Buddy Bear was sitting there watching me. I was lost in a battle with my head and my heart. I knew I had promised my son that I would zip line if he did, but my fears were very quickly winning and stopping me in my tracks. It got down to just Buddy Bear and me on the platform. I had to send him first because I was still having an internal debate...just jump/I can't jump. I fought with myself and I started to convince myself that Buddy Bear would be disappointed that I didn't keep my promise, but I could make it up somehow. I stood at the top of that hill and inside yelled at myself for thinking this way. I had just started to walk to the hill to walk back down when I heard God tell me, "You promised." What a time to hear God! I thought, "Really? Now, God? I can't do this. I can't jump!" God just quietly told me, "You promised. You said you want to live what you say and you promised your son you would jump if he did. You need to jump. I promise it will be okay. Trust ME!" With that conviction, I walked up to the platform got connected to the line and jumped. I can't say it was a good jump or a far jump, but it did take my body off the platform and the only way down was the zip line. I can tell you I did NOT like the zip line. It was truly a leap of faith for me to jump off that platform. The ride on the zip line was okay but I don't like heights and it was way too hard to take that first leap.
So I have been thinking about that leap off the platform and how hard it was a lot lately. God keeps reminding me that I was obedient by taking that leap even though I did not like the ride overall. Then I keep getting the thought about what other areas of my life am I refusing to take the leap for. What areas am I missing out on because I refuse to leap? I am standing on the platform and having a battle instead of trusting God and leaping. I need to be more willing to leap and trust that God will take care of it all because He will. His word tells us that He watches over us, protects us, and provides for us. I just need to rest in that and know that when I leap, God will catch me. He will not let me fall and He will take care of me. I am the only one holding me back on the platform and I know that wonderful things await me when I leap, it is truly just getting over the fear of leaping. I guess that is why as a Christian, I always have more growing to do.