By Cori Schrader
I was a deputy sheriff while living in Houston, Texas. I worked 3rd shift in a large, 13 story county jail. The jail was full beyond capacity and many inmates slept on floor mats because there weren’t enough beds. As a member of my shift’s Emergency Response Team, I received Special Operations and Riot Tactic training as well as other specialized training. We were the ones called to handle severe or emergency situations. Now don’t get too impressed, my training wasn’t used or tested in many circumstances. In addition to an hour of physical training every night while on duty, some days we would go running after work. Ever try to run one or more miles with a baby in a back-pack style baby carrier? Let’s just say it was challenging! The kids seemed to love it though! I’m sure it looked like we were carrying a life-sized bobble-heads as the kids’ heads would bob up and down as we ran. I had two little ones at the time. A fellow deputy who ran with me would carry one and I would carry the other. I remember one occasion where another runner caught up with us and, between panting breaths, explained that he had felt he couldn’t run another step until he saw us run past. After seeing us, he was inspired to not give up and finished his run!
I also received training in rappelling. I love adventure and heights, so this was highly anticipated. Our instructors took us to a site where there stood a tall, cylinder-shaped water tower. I had never rappelled before; I missed the first training session while pregnant with my second child. This time I was ready and eager to go. We were given basic instructions then climbed the tower via a ladder connected to its side. I enjoyed being on the top of the tower, looking down at the miniature-looking team members still on the ground, while waiting my turn. Once at the top we received additional instructions and another person, experienced at rappelling, checked our equipment and secured our rope. The rope being tied to a safety railing that flanked either side of the ladder posed a problem. To start a descent, you first had to climb up and over the rail then get situated for the rappel. That was a little unnerving. You couldn’t hold both the rope and the rail; you had no choice but to hold the rail. That meant a slip would send you into a fall instead of a controlled descent. There was always a safety-man on the ground holding the other end of the rope. In the case of a mishap, he or she could use their weight to pull the rope taut which would stop your fall. But if you slipped while climbing the rail, you had a greater chance of falling backwards, head-first. The possibility of your head meeting the tower’s side, very probable.
Almost immediately after getting over the rail I asked the instructor rappelling alongside me if, instead of merely walking down the side of the tower to the ground, I could push-off, away from the tower and rappel with more speed and distance at a time. Smiling broadly he said, “Sure!”, and off we went. Pushing away, dropping several feet while the momentum of the swing brought us back to the tower’s side to push away again. What a rush! I loved it and couldn’t wait to climb back up that ladder to take my turn again and again! I was like a kid on a playground who just found the courage to go down the biggest slide and had discovered the joy in it.
While I found rappelling extremely fun, it does take a great amount of trust. You have to trust yourself, your equipment, your instructor and your safety-man. You are virtually risking bodily harm or loss of life if any of those things fail.
Do you have that kind of trust? Would you trust another person that fully? Do you trust God to that degree? Sometimes we have to trust others when we would rather be in control. We trust surgeons, mechanics, managers and others to make correct decisions for our benefit. Sometimes they’re right on, sometimes they make mistakes. Trusting God should be a no-brainer. His record, unmatched and unblemished. Yet there are times we still find it hard to trust him completely. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find you are there occasionally. Lack of faith or trust is found throughout the Bible, even with those noted for their great faith. Many who had directly heard a promise from God still tried to speed up the process or make it become reality on their own. They grew impatient and unsure.
Those times are when it feels like experiencing going over that rail. You have to take a step of faith, for that moment you have to give up control and totally rely on someone else to react on your behalf and protect you. It’s a hard thing to do, and sometimes a very scary experience. But once you’ve tasted God’s faithfulness and protection, it is much easier each time you climb that ladder and find yourself in a vulnerable place. God will be your rope, your harness, your instructor and your ‘safety-man’…everything that you need. There are times you may not see him holding the end of your rope. Rest assured that he is there! He promised to never leave or abandon you. You can trust him. I believe that he wants us to be people who are trustworthy too. Who knows, you could be the one God entrusts as an earthly safety-man for someone else – to instruct or protect them. Can you be trusted? The challenge then, is to not only learn to trust God, but to live our lives in such a way that others find us trustworthy also.