I remember when I was in Boy Scouts, our favorite camping trip was always going to Mount Yonah, north of Cleveland, Georgia, and getting to rappel. If you’re unfamiliar with rappelling, it’s fairly simple: you climb to the top of a mountain, tie a long strand of ribbon around your legs, attach a rope to the ribbon through a small metal circle, and then fall backwards off the mountain. Easy-peasy.
There’s actually far more to it than that, but it’s late in the day and my kids are screaming, so I don’t have time to go into all the mechanics. Long story short: you put on some protective gear and fling yourself off a mountain. Trust me.
It’s a strange feeling, to allow yourself to go over the edge of a mountain and look down at the trees and rocks below armed with the knowledge that you’re fighting the immutable law of gravity with a rope. At first, your heart accelerates. Then, it begins to pound. Soon, it crawls its way out of your mouth, down your arm, and onto the ground in front of you, where it promptly runs screaming into the underbrush.
After that you pee your pants.
Then you throw up in your mouth a little.
It dawns on you, as your butt begins to pull you down the mountain’s face, that this might not be such a great idea after all. Before you can complete that thought, however, you are suddenly headed towards terra firma below. Suddenly, you have to manage your foot placement, the position of your hands, how fast you let the rope glide through your control clip. Instead of worrying about falling you learn that you are falling, but the descent can be controlled; you realize that the ground and gravity aren’t your enemies, they’re your allies.
Courage courses through your veins and before you know it, you’re pushing off the mountainside, shoving yourself outward and into the air to fall faster. You swing back into the mountain and push off again, this time a little harder, creating a graceful arc that gives you the illusion of flight.
Then you become aware that the bottom is fast approaching and you brace yourself to land. Once you hit the solid soil, you laugh like a maniac and look back up to the top of the mountain. You were there; now, seemingly against the laws of physics, you’re here. You’ve fallen, but you’ll walk away – and walk away excited, alive, even anxious to make the journey again.
It’s not a perfect metaphor, but there are times in our lives when we’re asked to simply fall. To step off of one level and travel to another. Maybe it’s in pursuit of a dream, or a job, or a calling; maybe it’s deepening a relationship or repairing one that’s been torn. Could just be the simple truth that God wants you to know Him and His plan for you on a deeper level, which means you have to know yourself on a deeper level. Maybe it’s all of them.
Whichever it is, I hope you’re learning like I am: get off the cliff. Let go. Trust fall.
You’ll be ready to do it again in no time.