Another lifetime ago, I attended a Torchbearers School in Sweden, that features a pretty awesome high ropes obstacle course. It started with 10 meter climb up a climbing wall to the obstacle course high up in the trees, and finished with a thrilling ride down the zip line. Separate from the obstacle course was a challenging little activity called the “Pamper” Pole (named so for the brand of underwear you needed to wear to complete the challenge). The object was to climb a pole and jump from the top to a trapeze suspended maybe 10 feet away. (I’m guessing on how far away the trapeze was, far enough that I knew even on solid ground I would probably not make the jump).
The Pamper Pole is a 10 meter (32.8 ft) high stump with blocks nailed all the way up to the top, that you use to scale it’s length. Once you arrive at the top, you need to actually get on top. Which, for me, was thee very hardest part of the whole thing. Not only does the stump sway with your weight, but there is absolutely nothing to grab onto to help hoist yourself up onto it’s very little flat surface. The top of the pole is like any old stump top. Round. Flat. Big enough to sit comfortably on. It should be easy to stand up. But it is rather daunting, despite knowing that I had a harness that would keep me from hitting the ground if I did slip. It took a lot of will power to stop clinging to the stump for dear life and start maneuvering to get on top.
Somehow, with much coaching from the bottom, I managed to sit on the top and then configure myself into a crouch. It was absolutely worthy of pampers! With legs trembling, the extreme strength and balance it took to raise my body upright with everything in my mind telling me not to stand, somehow… SOMEHOW! I found myself standing and staring at the impossible gulf between where I was—Ten meters up on top of a wobbly pole—and where the trapeze swung directly across from me.
Everything inside me wanted to leap out and swing from that trapeze. Everything inside me also knew from watching others that it was a nearly impossible feat. Still, I found a tiny part of me just KNEW I could do it! And after a couple of false attempts to gain the courage and balance to jump, I turned off my mind and went for it! I took the leap!
Time turned slow motion. I could feel my body sailing through the air and my fingers stretching, reaching, grasping for the bar the zoomed nearer and nearer and then suddenly I was free falling. My heart dropped just before the ropes of my harness caught and I swung there like a pendulum, high above the crowd of onlookers who cheered.
Almost! And not quite.
And I found myself lining up to do it all over again. And it got easier everytime, though it was always just as heart-stoppingly disappointing to not grab the trapeze bar ever.
I thought of that Pamper Pole today as I was singing an old hymn during church.
“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”
A very popular hymn I know, and I enjoy singing it, but that very line that the hymn is named for, irritated me today for some reason, until I got thinking about that Pamper Pole and how it’s easy to watch something done until you have to do it. When I was standing on the ground watching a classmate scale the pole, it was agonizing because it was so obvious what they needed to do! And it was excruciating to watch some people as they struggled to trust the harness or struggled to find a way to stand up or gain the courage to leap.
UNTIL . . .
I was the one climbing the pole.
UNTIL I was the one having to trust the harness.
UNTIL I was the one attempting a giant leap towards an impossible goal and failing.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Nope not for me. Not sweet at all.
It’s easy for me to SAY it’s sweet to trust in Jesus. It’s easy for me to TELL others that they just need to trust. It’s easy for me to SAY I’m going to trust Jesus and take Him at His word. It’s easy for me to THINK I’m gonna rest in His promises when troubles come.
UNTIL I HAVE TO.
Really, I gotta be honest. For me, it’s not that sweet to trust God. It’s agonizing and a mental wrestling match and physically tiring. It goes against everything in me when I actually have to TRUST God and believe that He is going to do what He said He’ll do. Trust that He is who He says He is, and I am who He says I am.
However, I ‘m hoping (really HOPING) that trusting will become more fluid like any skill does with practice—like climbing that Pamper Pole became easier with every try. Maybe I’m just light-years spiritually behind Louisa M. R. Stead who wrote this hymn after witnessing her husband drown while trying to save a boy. Because that wouldn’t have been the words I penned.
Maybe one day it will be sweet and natural and possibly even restful to trust Jesus when the time comes. But for now I will have to pray along with that one line in the chorus I can relate to:
“O for grace to trust Him more!”