I looked 90 years old.
Here I was in beautiful Colorado, and I needed an oxygen tank in a fanny pack strapped to my side because I was literally gasping for air. Utterly exasperated, I knew I looked ridiculous. I could tell it was true because my boys were walking ten feet in front of me; embarrassed they were.
Ever have one of those days when you just find it hard to believe or have faith that the God of the universe is really engaged with what’s going on with you? Well, maybe you don’t have those days; maybe it’s just someone you know who does. But this big-haired girl from Oklahoma absolutely has those days, and this was one of them.
While vacationing, something I had looked forward to with my family in the summer of 2012, I was trying hard not to complain because the altitude was really affecting me. Of course, because God has a sense of humor in giving the girliest girl on the planet two boys, adventure would be involved in this get-away. Sigh. While the mountains are beautiful and breathtaking, I have never been a firm believer that we need to go up to the top of them. The air is very thin there. And on this particular day, so was my faith. Thin, that is. Someone send me to the beach and give me a fruity drink.
We were just supposed to tour a cave (an enclosed cave) at the top of the mountain; that seemed fine. I mean, a big, open hole in the side of the mountain; dark with only one way out. But whoever is in charge of these events had the audacity to put a colorful, kid-oriented jungle gym called “Wind-walking” right in front of the cave, so the parents, who had the word “sucker” written on their foreheads, would then dole out money for their children to “walk the wind.”
Let me explain this “deathtrap for children” to you. It looks like a giant jungle gym of balance beams. A cable is strapped to your child’s back, and then they walk on the balance beam all around the jungle gym. The one problem I had with this “contraption of entertainment” is that part of the balance beam your child walks on hangs over the wide open canyon. I mean, you have to watch that first step. It would be a doozy. Guess whose boys totally lost focus on going in the big open cave and wanted to walk on the wind?
Now, it could’ve been my lack of oxygen was contributing to my mood, but I was increasingly irritated with the whole situation. “Please, please Mommy, can we?”
Earlier, I had been reading a story about a terrible accident at the Grand Canyon. I didn’t realize how much it had affected me. Allow me to explain. A man on vacation with his family stood back to look at the marvelous canyon before him, and then minutes later; he was gone. All they know is when the family noticed he was gone; he was really gone. You see, one moment he was staring and standing on the edge of the canyon, a magnificent sight, and then tragedy struck. Reports said he may have bent over to pick up his hat. His hat. And slipped and fell to his death.
One second, from life to death. A decision to pick up a hat cost him his life, and now here I was remembering that story on the top of this mountain. Staring at the jungle-gym contraption and the sweet faces of the little men I love more than my own life, I was faced with a decision to make. But it wasn’t the decision that was hard; it was the message or the meaning in the decision. Do I trust God? Really?
To trust Him fully, means to live your life like you were dying the next day. Surrendering to Him looks like wide open spaces of possibility—with every moment counting. Because moments matter. When I think of all the silly friendship woes or problems I face daily, I wonder how much time I waste not living completely surrendered to trusting Him. I have always had issues with fear, which is the opposite of trust.
This year, as the New Year struck, the Lord whispered a new word to me. The word is “BIGGER.” All I could hope was that He didn’t mean my hips, but I loved my new word. So, I asked Him. “What is it that I need to know will be bigger?” He gently said, “Everything.” Someone get me some water, I feel flush. As time has progressed, I have had to lean in to this word daily.
Wow. Do I need to believe for bigger. The minute we say bigger, immediately people think of their calling or something that they do; but this was different. I knew God wanted me to grow in bigger trust. I have never done well at that subject, as I am afraid I am going to make a wrong decision and that’s going to be it. Or those team-building exercises where you fall backwards into someone else’s arms? Not me. Didn’t happen. Yes, trust issues. Now, after all my years in counseling, I know it stems from having suffered through the loss of important people in my life and a whole lot of unfaithfulness. I’m still working these things out, but I really desire to be the kind of girl who believes for “BIGGER” this year and feel it in my heart.
That day at the top of the mountain, I said “no” to the jungle gym of silliness. And there was my husband staring in disbelief. He said, “I think you need to ask God what He says about the boys.” Did he just try to do a freedom session on me while I’m barely breathing? Well, it worked. I quietly asked God if I was going to die from lack of air…wait…no…I asked Him: Should the boy’s wind-walk? Silently, I heard, “There’s really no reason to fear. I’ve got them.”
And He did. They lived through the summer vacation of 2012, and so did I.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths” (NIV).
I don’t know why it’s so hard. It’s right there in black and white: He will direct our path, so why do I believe I’m a better director? Why do we think we can work it out or handle it? He’s so big, and in the places we feel uncomfortable, He wants us to lean in to Him, not away, and to allow Him to help us push, and to accomplish bigger faith and trust in Him on the other side of whatever fear is present.
There is a thin line that separates the living from the dead. And living brings risk. But, I’m ready to risk the rest of my life on planet Earth and stop being afraid. I don’t want to rush back to higher altitudes anytime soon, but I do want to pursue bigger trust with God in 2015. While the world is suffering in many ways, let’s band together and pursue bigger levels of Jesus in every area of our life—who knows what could happen. He might just take our breath away; no pun intended.