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Ziplining Through Hard Times


by Linda Evans Shepherd


One Saturday afternoon, I found myself watching a group of young women zipline across a small Texas lake. One by one, each of these limber climbers geared up in a harness and helmet, then climbed the telephone pole to the platform that hovered fifteen feet above us. On a count of three, they each jumped off, gliding down a wire that crossed the lake. They were fun to watch until they invited me, the speaker at their women’s retreat, to jump with them. Although I was happy to support the jumpers, I hesitated because I was determined not to jump at the chance of ziplining. But after way too much peer pressure, I somehow found myself climbing up that telephone pole.


That’s where the trouble started. It seemed that each time my foot groped for the next removable peg, I’d kick it off the pole. But no worries; my lanky friends simply shimmied up the pole to replace each peg as I knocked them down.


By the time the zipline master clipped me onto the wire and coaxed me to the edge of the platform, my heart hammered so hard I couldn’t hear her command to jump. Instead, I heard the voice of my mother, “So, if all your friends were to jump off a cliff, would you jump too?”


The answer seemed clear. NO!


But when the peer pressure turned to pleading, I could feel the sweat trickle between my shoulder blades. I swayed in time with chants of the women below me, “One, two, three…jump!”


Not a chance.


The zipline master saw my terror and suggested, “Stop looking down. Close your eyes and push off the edge of the platform, just as if you were pushing toward God. Can you do that?”


That idea seemed possible, so I closed my eyes and recited the chant with the women below, “One, two, three… jump!”


Suddenly, the wind fingered through my hair as I glided over the peaceful lake that rushed beneath me. Soon, I fell into the waiting arms on the other side of the lake.


Trusting God in hard times feels a lot like jumping off a zipline platform on the edge of a cliff. It’s hard to do when you’re focusing on your fears. So how do you get through trouble without leaning into panic? You must close your eyes, and trust God as you let go of everything else.


To commemorate my jump, I paraphrased Psalms 23 and shared it with my audience during our next session.


The Lord is my zipline master. I shall not want to scream. He makes me to harness up in the green pastures. He leads me to glide over still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me up telephone poles of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yeah, though I fling myself through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear falling. For you are belaying me. Your ropes and clips, they comfort me. You prepare a launch pad before me in the presence of both friends and enemies. You anoint my hair with wind. My endorphins runneth over. Surely other zipliners will follow me - All the days of my life And I will glide in the afternoons with the Lord - forever.


So, remember, the next time you’re paralyzed by fear, stop focusing on that fear and push toward God. That’s the only way to make that leap of faith.


Based on a story in Praying Through Hard Times by Linda Evans Shepherd, from Baker Revell.


Linda Evans Shepherd has dedicated her life to serving Jesus even as she overcame life-altering challenges. Her successful writing career includes 38 award-winning and bestselling books including When You Don't Know What to Pray. The Potluck Club and Make Time for Joy. Linda also founded the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), uniting 1000 Christian women authors in spreading God's love to a hurting world. As the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine, she has received multiple EPA awards with Leading Hearts Magazine taking first place in EPA's 2023 Christian Digital Ministry Magazine of the Year. Linda's latest book, Praying Through Hard Times, inspires readers to trust God in their difficulties. To learn more about Linda, visit LindaEvansShepherd.com. For her ministries, visit her at AWSA.com, LeadingHearts.com, and her YouTube channel at youtube.com/@LindaEvansShepherd_GotToPray. Connect with Linda on Facebook at LindaEvansShepherdAuthor and on Twitter at @LindaShepherd.

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