i should probably be working on homework or studying for the test i have tomorrow, but instead i am caught off guard by the majesty of the God of this universe.

every summer i have worked at camp, i have spent a significant amount of time on the ropes course. i teach high and low ropes and i love teaching girls how to work together, face their fears, and succeed at something they didn’t think they could do. i also love climbing myself when given the opportunity. one of the elements on our challenge course at camp is known as “the wall”. this is not to be confused with “the climbing wall”, which is covered in rocks and goes 30 or 40 feet into the air. no, “the wall” is a sheer wooden wall with nothing to grip or hold onto that reaches 10 feet up and has a platform a few feet below the top on the other side. the objective with the wall is to, without outside aid, get your entire team up and over. the first and last person have the most difficult tasks- the first has to get up without someone on the top pulling them, and the last has to get up without someone on the bottom to push them. in my twelve-ish years at camp, i am proud to say that i’ve managed to master the art of going up first and last, and in one particularly difficult wall-conquering, both (they lowered me down the front of the wall at one point). i have a lot of wall experience, and i know the tricks and methods that work to get everyone (even dads) up and over, and i can easily explain it to anyone who wants to listen.

but that’s not the point of challenge course, and that is not my role as leader. instead, my role is to introduce the element, give a few guidelines for how to complete it safely and to remind the team to think through what they are doing before they get started, so they don’t end up in a pickle. While teams are completing the element, i spot the participants to be sure no one gets hurt and remind them to keep trying and keep their helmets on at all time, and occasionally giving consequences for broken rules (the wall becomes much more difficult once you’re blindfolded). i have had girls beg for help or simply turn to look at me expecting me to give them all the answers, but i never do. i want them to try so that they will learn. i want them to grow in confidence and in independence and in joy, and i want them to succeed. but sometimes that means they take the long way over the wall and sometimes it means they have to start over from the beginning because they’ve gotten so off track they aren’t going to be able to finish.

sometimes, it is so frustrating to watch teams try things that i know won’t work, that i’ve already advised them against. some teams just jump into it without thinking through what the consequences of their early decisions will be, and i want to stop them and tell them to think, think for just one minute before getting started. some groups get frustrated with me for “just watching”, while i, in turn, get frustrated with them for giving up.

i think this might be how God feels with me sometimes.

obviously, He knows the best way over whatever obstacle i’m facing. He’s set some rules in place and given some guidelines and even examples to follow, but when i stand looking at my metaphorical wall, i feel angry that He hasn’t laid the exact path for this out in front of me (not that He doesn’t do that sometimes, too. there are lots of Bible stories to show that sometimes God is blatantly obvious, but there are also lots that show that sometimes, God is a little more subtle). God knows what the easiest way is, but He also knows that i can do this, and He wants me to grow in confidence, success, joy, and trust in His guidelines. of course, God doesn’t leave me nearly as without help as i leave my teams going up the wall, but He does let me fail and start over, so that i will grow.

i am learning to trust the guidelines, and to face the consequences when i don’t. i’m learning to, within God’s guidelines, try new things and not get discouraged when i have to start over. i am learning that He will never let me go up the wall without my helmet, and that there’s a reason for every time i start over or fall down or have to be lowered down the front of the wall. and i’m slowlyyyy learning that when i finally get to the top, it’s not because of my strength or independence, but because God was pushing me from below and pulling me from above and all glory for anything i could ever do or achieve belongs to Him.