Pull The Ripcord

photo of the Royal Gorge Bridge

This summer, my family and I went to Colorado Springs and enjoyed visiting some of the local natural attractions like Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, and the Royal Gorge.  For those of you who don’t know, the Royal Gorge bridge is over 1000 feet above the Arkansas River and around 1260 feet across. One of the attractions is a skycoaster, a large swing where you are strapped in, raised up, and released to “free fall” and swing out over the rim of the Gorge.  Of course, one of my daughters wanted to go, but there was no way my wife or other daughter were going, so I was enlisted, despite my old age, to fly with my daughter. (Check out this video for an example of what we experienced.)

What I didn’t realize until later was that I had to pull the release to drop us.  It’s basically an orange ripcord that you pull to initiate the initial free fall. It’s a unique feeling to be in that position.  As you are being raised up, your mind is telling you that you are safe, but at the same time, there is a bit of the unknown or “what-if” doubts that creep into the back of your mind.  Finally, when you are at the highest point and are signaled to pull the cord, you have to have complete faith in the safety harness and cables to hold you through the flight. You just pull it and let it rip.

It’s a little like the start of a new school year.  There is a mix of excitement and, if we are honest with ourselves, a level of trepidation as we prepare to pull the ripcord and fly into a new year where we know, for the most part, what lies before us.  Yet we are all realistic enough to know that there are unknown challenges and obstacles that will present themselves. We will have to trust God, relying on his strength and care to help us overcome.  

As I read through Hebrews this summer, I was struck by Paul’s concluding exhortation to the Hebrews in chapter 13.  In verses 5b-6, he says, “because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?’ ”   

It is so simple yet so profound.  There are so many times when I put my trust and faith in myself and my plans instead of trusting God.  Ironically, the feeling I had in that harness at the skycoaster is a feeling I need to have more often - the feeling of not being in complete control and having to place my ultimate trust in someone else.  God equips us with what we need in order to do whatever is set before us. He created us for a purpose and provides us with the tools and equipment needed to see it through to completion. But, we have to pull the ripcord and release ourselves to his care and his plan.

My prayer this year is that, as we pull the ripcord on a new year, we will give ourselves, our students, and our work over to God.  It will be hard. It will be challenging. It will also be rewarding and fulfilling.


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