Over the Edge
Mar 17, 2009 by Dave Condit | 0 Comments
Denver Seminary is offering a class this semester that has me pretty excited. It's a Youth and Family Ministry (YFM) class that focuses on outdoor adventure programming. The class is called Adventure Ministry Leadership and Programming 670. The class is in the YFM department, but the material is just as applicable to adult ministry. The class is on a weekend schedule to permit more extensive offsite experiences to include outdoor initiative games, rock climbing, rappelling, kayaking, and back packing. The idea is to learn how to lead and facilitate these experiences in a ministry setting. So far, we've been learning by doing and not just by lecture.
This past weekend, the class went up into the Colorado mountains to rappel and rock climb. We spent time discussing leadership techniques, risk management, Christian application, and rappelling/rock climbing. As has been our blessing throughout the semester, we had perfect weather with calm winds, full sun, and warm temperatures. The setting was amazing with a remote and private cliff with views of wilderness and white-capped mountains.
Having already had much experience with both of the day's key activities, I was focusing more on the potential future application in ministry than on the actual experience. I helped carry some gear around and offered encouragement to those who were learning some of the techniques as they experienced the events for the first time. When my turn came, another student was already starting the rappel next to me. He was a little nervous about the experience, so I decided to rappel next to him.
I don't think this was his first time on a rappel, but he was still having some qualms about backing over the edge. The height was significant. The equipment was beyond safe, but that does not mean it's not intimidating to walk backwards over a cliff. I offered some encouragement about the strength of the equipment and its ability to support way more than a simple person. His response to me made me stop and think.
He explained that he was well aware of the technology and strength of the rope, of the quality of the safety equipment and the redundancy of the structure. He knew the rope would hold him and he wouldn't fall. He knew I was right beside him and would stay there for the duration. He knew he would eventually reach the bottom safely. However, none of that made stepping over the edge any easier.
I think sometimes we experience that same situation as we move through our lives and ministries. We have faith. We know God is with us. We know God gives us the strength we need. We know we are ultimately going to end up in the safe arms of our creator. However, that still doesn't make stepping over the edge easy. It doesn't mean we don't have enough faith. Just like my classmate fully understood the rope would hold, we can still experience fear with a full knowledge of God.
My classmate eventually took the necessary steps and made it safely through the experience. The key was not to avoid all fear but to keep going despite the fear. As we face fear and uncertainty in life and ministry, we can do the same. The fear is natural. We just need to keep moving and working. It may never feel comfortable in making those committing moves, but we'll succeed and reach the end as promised.