I put one foot in front of the other, the suspension bridge swaying with every step.
“Eyes ahead,” I repeated to myself, knowing one glance toward the ground would leave me frozen in fear. But I hadn’t walked all this way in the New Mexico heat to back out now.
The circumstances that led to my participation in tree rappelling at Ascent, the new national high school camp for U.S. Mennonite Brethren youth, were coincidental, but I learned a lesson about faith that day.
Tasked with photographing free time activities on Glorieta Adventure Camps’ 2,400-acre campus had left me scrambling to find who was doing what when and where.
So when I ran into a group going tree rappelling, I asked if I could tag along, not really intending to participate in anything other than conversation and documentation along the way.
But when given the opportunity to strap on a harness, I said a tentative yes. Being away from home emboldens me, I guess.
Harnessed and helmeted, I ascended a rocky ledge, which was joined to a platform in the trees by a narrow bridge. Clinging to the netting on each side, I took one shaky step, then another, my eyes glued on the platform, intent on reaching it.
My relief at a successful crossing was short-lived, however. After helpers connected my harness and explained Rappelling 101, they instructed me to back to the edge of the platform. Heart racing, I inched toward the edge. “Sit back to test the rope,” they said. Excuse me? But there was no going back. Trusting the rope to hold me, I eased into a seated position over thin air, breathing easier once I discovered the rope held when grasped with two hands. Hand over hand, I lowered myself to earth.
By saying yes to rappelling, I stepped into something scary, keeping my gaze ahead and trusting the rope to hold. Similarly, walking with Jesus may feel scary, but he offers an invitation to fix my eyes on the road in front of me and trust that what I’ve secured my life to will hold—an assurance I won’t fall or be left hanging.
I’m reminded of Peter, who, at Jesus’ invitation, climbs out of the boat and walks on water. Peter’s willingness to step out of his comfort zone enables him to do something remarkable.
The feature section in this issue explores work and rest—stories of faithful followers of Jesus being present and participating in the work to which God has called them.
Let’s ask ourselves, to what is God calling us with a gentle, “Come”?
I imagine we all receive invitations to face our fears—to traverse the wind, waves or a swaying suspension bridge and walk boldly ahead on wobbly knees.
What might there be for us to discover if we step out in faith? Might the fear fade if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.