The Intersection of Forgiveness and Ropes Course

The retreat this weekend made me remember a newsletter piece I'd written last year on the value of ropes course safety equipment when we're talking about God's capacity to forgive. There's a chance this has already appeared on the RYW blog-- if it has, consider it a classic, not a rerun!

Forty feet in the air, with my feet resting on a one-inch wide rope, I lost my balance. The rope I was crossing shook, my body bent at the waist, and I fell backward into thin air.

My fall lasted eight inches, until the rope attached to my climbing harness reached the end of its four percent stretch and held me fast. On the ground, a staffer named Jack held the rope, keeping me in the air. With a little work and some encouragement from the others on the ropes course structure, I pulled my feet back on the rope, stood and finished the course.

On my own, without the rope and harness, the fall would have hurt. Since I was supported, it gave me a chance to look carefully at the rest of the path through the course, take a deep breath, and keep going. While a high ropes course is not as easy as walking down the sidewalk, I trusted my gear. My harness, rope and clips were as strong as I needed them to be.

One part of the safety talk we heard before beginning the ropes course at Trout Lodge was a few statistics about how much weight each part of the safety system could hold. The weakest part, the threaded caribiner clip holding the rope to our harness, is rated to support 5,000 pounds. The ropes themselves hold up to 6,000 pounds. If we could get the harness around it, one rope and one biner could belay a small pickup truck.

The smallest detail of God's plan for this world is stronger than our greatest fears. The least part of God's love for us is able to defeat the biggest wrong thing we've ever done. And just as the ropes course gear is able to support many times more strain than I was able to put on it, God doesn't just give us the minimum support we need, but lavishes love on us, more than we'll ever know and certain more than we could ever use up.

Sometimes we fall. Sometimes our balance shakes in the wind or in our fear. But God's care for us turns that fall into a rest, when we can look at the path, take a deep breath, and let God lift us back onto it. --February 2006, Dragon Tales (the newsletter of the Church of St. Michael & St. George, St. Louis, MO)

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