Agape: April 1, 2020

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

In September 2000, the leadership of my school’s chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship thought it would be a good bonding experience for all of us to take part in the high ropes course, and I was talked into doing it by Mike, one of my staff workers, despite being severely afraid of heights. After being given a safety lecture, fastened with harnesses, and handed helmets, we ascended the course. A key feature of our safety lecture was the assurance that the daisy chain, a piece of webbing material with multiple loops on it, would hold our weight and catch us if we fell.

I made it across the first five elements without a problem as they were pretty basic bridges and things like wooden balance beams, and I found that I could forget about how high up I was if my focus was on the tree in front of me. On the sixth element, we had to walk a wire strung between two trees, grabbing a series of ropes hanging down from above as we edged across sideways. I made it probably 20 feet out onto wire before I realized that I was looking out into the distance and that I was 60 feet in the air, being suspended by a webbing cable. Any confidence I had in my ability to get across the wire instantaneously vanished, and I did the most logical thing I could think of doing… which was to break into literal hysterics. I was screaming in fear and sobbing my eyes out, and all I remember is the voice of my friend Erik yelling encouragement to me to keep going.

“Jen! You’ve got this! Take two more steps and you’ll be at the next rope. Grab it! OK, now just scoot along holding that rope! You’re almost at the next one!”

I eventually made my way across, clipped my carabiner to the tree on the platform, and wrapped my arms around it. I was sobbing my eyes out, and when my Erik made it across, he hugged me tightly and told me repeatedly how proud he was of me. Eventually, I was talked into continuing and made it across the next element before Mike and I hit the one where we would have to go across sideways, using each other for balance. This was going to be tricky because Mike was a good foot taller than me, but we prayed quickly before starting, and we managed to inch our way halfway across before I suddenly fell backward.

To my surprise, my daisy chain caught me.

I was suddenly suspended 60 feet in the air, completely supported, and it was the most amazing feeling. Somehow, Mike and I were able to get me back up onto the wire and in a standing position, and we managed to inch our way slowly to the next platform. At that point, I had complete and utter confidence that I wasn’t going to fall, and I literally ran across the last element to the final platform where I was able to climb down.

One of the lessons I learned that day was that I needed to keep my focus on God during times like these when my depression and anxiety hit. I never have to worry about Him catching me as I fell because His hands are big enough to catch me.

Gracious God, help us to remember that You are holding us in your hands and will never let go of us, even when times are hard. Amen.
-Jen McCabe