A couple of Summers ago I worked at a Youth Ranch in the Teton Mountain Range called Badger Creek. There, I was part of an incredible experience to help shape the lives of youth from all over the country. We were able to have a week of intense fun doing all sorts of activities including high and low rope COPE courses, white-water rafting, horse-back riding, and hand cart trekking. I have never had so much fun in my life taking those youth around and watching them as they created their own life changing experiences.
During one of these hot, summer days was an experience that I will never forget.
I was on top of a high ropes course tower called "the climbing tower" which involved the youth climbing up a rock wall belayed by their fellow teenagers down below. When they got to the top of the climbing tower, they climbed over the edge and stood on a platform that was at the top. They would then be unstrapped from their belays and hooked onto a separate carabiner that was connected to a sturdy strap and a zip line. They were then told to jump off the platform into the abyss and have the faith that the equipment would hold them. It was pretty intense to say the least.
While at the top of the climbing tower one day, it was my responsibility to make sure that the kids made it to the top of the tower safely, were strapped correctly to the zip line, and were able to get back down to the ground with no injury. I was looking over the edge of the climbing tower at the boys and girls that were excitedly scrambling up the wall. They were having so much fun and most wouldn't even take a second of hesitation before hurling themselves off the tower on the zip line. There was, however, a young woman who started making her way up the wall. She was shy, and tentative in the first place to begin climbing. I watched her carefully and her belays to make sure that all went smoothly. After getting about a third of the way up the wall she stopped. "I can't make it" she said. "Let me down." It made me sad that she wasn't going to continue the rest of her way up the wall after all, so many had succeeded before her. I called to the other youth to give her encouragement. This helped a little as she began once again to slowly inch her way up the wall. As her strength gave way she stopped and pleaded to be let down. It would have been easy for me to tell her belays to let her down, but I just couldn't let her fail. I bent over the side of the wall and talked to her. "Becky (name has been changed), I KNOW you can do this. Here, I will reach my hand down to you. Just make it to my hand and I will help you up the rest of the way." She was panting and she had perspiration running down her face. There was a moment where I thought she wouldn't do it, but then the strength came. With a look of determination, she pursed her lips and once again started up the wall. The space between my outstretched hand and hers became shorter and shorter until finally, she caught hold of mine. I clasped on with both of my hands and helped her up the rest of the way with the cheers of her comrades beneath her. She had made it! After giving her a hug and fastening her into the zip line, I turned to her and said, "Now here is the real test of your faith. Jump off the tower and trust that the equipment will catch you." She hesitated for a moment, looked around, smiled, and then hopped the tower into nothingness. I was so proud of her!
This experience has since made me think. We are all going up our own climbing walls in life. Some times the wall is steeper than other times. Once in a while we may loose our strength and feel as if we cannot make another step up. I have felt this way many times in my life and I know that I will feel it again. However, if we are only to look up to who is at the top of the tower, we will find our loving Savior, even Jesus Christ standing up there to greet us. He can see the full picture and our progression. He knows that we can make it up the wall if we but try a little longer. When we feel like there is nothing left but to go downwards again, He reaches out His hand to us to help lift us up. It is up to us to let Him. If we just go up a bit further than we think we can, grab His hand, and hold on, He will lift us to places that we never could have imagined. Once at the top of that trial, that mountain, whatever it may be, it is then up to us to trust in Him to lead us the rest of the way, even if we can't see the path in front of us. I testify that I know that the Savior lives and He is there for each of us as we turn to Him. His hands are always outstretched. Let Him lift you!