Zip on – Autumn Eilers
“Take me down! Take me down! Take me down!” the fifth grader screamed at the top of the ziplines. He, and many others before him, were paralyzed with fear at the idea of jumping off the platform and zipping down to the bottom. Some scream, some cry, and some just don’t respond at all to my pleading and encouraging. Their fear of heights is crippling. On this particular day, I had taught all day and was beyond exhausted. My 22 year old mind was having trouble leveling with these 10 year olds; and to me, their fear seemed irrational. The cables hold 26,600 pounds, the carabiners hold 5,000, and no one has ever fallen from our ziplines- is this not proof enough? I had no compassion, and I was frustrated. I was tired of being yelled at, cried to, and ignored.
“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:39-40
All of a sudden, the top of the ziplines got very quiet. I had a moment of clarity where I realized that to God, I am exactly like these fifth graders. The Lord promises that He will take care of me, has proven Himself trustworthy, and calls me to be fearless in His name. Yet, I so often act like these kids! I scream and cry and ask God to show me some proof that He will be faithful. However, as I stood frustrated and lacked empathy for these children, the Lord is consistently compassionate with me. He looks at me with love and calls me a daughter. He calms every fear. I am engraved on His palms, I am filled with His Spirit, and I am chosen and beloved by Him. When I fear, I am diminishing His power and proclaiming that I don’t trust in His sovereignty or plan.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I have nothing to fear, but just like kids going down ziplines, I don’t always trust. Their equipment is secure- the pulley is strong; the cables are tight. I have to realize that my equipment is also secure: God has given me His Spirit, His word to know Him more fully, and a community to push me toward Him. I wanted to say to all those kids, “HELLO! YOU ARE SAFE AND THIS ISN’T SCARY. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR.” The Lord looks at me the same way, because where I am frustrated, He is understanding. Where I am harsh, He is gentle. I am a fragile, emotional child but the Lord still choses me to have a compassionate heart toward.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The fact that I can even write this post about what God teaches me through the ziplines is what makes my job so special. From ziplines, to Outdoor Education, to lifeguarding, the Lord is constantly teaching me and the rest of our fellowship class about the many facets of His character. We are so blessed to work and play and live with a community that loves like Jesus does, and pushes us to look more like Him. My eyes have been opened to the beauty of selfless service, the necessity of humility, and the unavoidability of patience. The Fellowship is refining and hard but I would choose this job over and over again.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have no reason to fear, because the Creator of the universe sent His son to die for my imperfections and flaws, ultimately paving the way for me to spend eternity in His presence. My fears are prideful and selfish, because I serve a God who is trustworthy. But unlike my human lens, the Lord sees my fears with empathy and desires to bring me comfort. I surrender the things that make me scared because Jesus calms the oceans and the hearts of 5th graders alike.
– Autumn Eilers