Saturday, February 15, 2014

Climbing our Tower of Trust

My TIE Value: Trust

     I was attending Chaplain’s assistant school in the summer of 1990. We were taken to a military obstacle course after an intensive round of examinations for fab four team competitions. The best team would win an extra overnight pass off the base. The team that I was on was comprised of a lady bus driver from Philadelphia, a former NBA player who played with the Chicago Bulls for a season, and my bunk mate who was great at martial arts. We were the best team at every obstacle. We worked together as one unit. No other team came close. So with each win we believed in each other more and more. We also grew more and more arrogant with each win.  However, this day would be forever seared in my memory of what happened at the “Tower of Faith.”

     This tower stood approximately 50 feet high with five levels. Each level was progressively further distance from previous level. This would test the limits of trust in each team member. The first level was about 5 feet off the ground. Everyone could easily hop up. The second level was about 7 feet higher.  Everyone could climb up with some help from their team. Then at the third level was somewhere around 9 feet from the second level. This is where faith or I would say trust in your team began to become a factor. Already over 20 feet from the ground, each team had to decide who would go in which order. The first of two climbers could be push up to the next level while the third member had one person pushing then two people pulling them up. And the fourth member had to trust all of their team members to pull them up to the next level. All of the other teams did not attempt to climb the fourth level but our team would successfully reach the fourth level for the win.

     As we began the third level on the Tower of Faith, we learned that all four of us were profoundly afraid of heights. For myself, I once clung to a trash can on top of the tower at a Six Flags amusement park. And on another occasion, I crawled on the floor on top of the Tower of Americas in San Antonio. Yet, I was elected to go fourth because the others were more afraid of heights than me. And so I reached up and the others hung over the edge and hoisted me to the third level where we are now 30+ feet in the air.

     Now, it was on to level four for the victory! We followed the same strategy as before. Each team member winced but continued to trust their team to support their climb. Then it was my turn. This is where we had to re-think our strategy because the increased distance was enough that all of my team mates could not simply pull me up as before. We could not figure it out. This is when our drill sergeant yelled up the following instructions.

1. Stand at the edge of the platform and face outward.
2. Reach up and let two team members pull me up to grab a hold of the support beam just under the next platform. 
3. As you swing your feet up to the next level release your grip from the beam and let your team catch your legs.

     With safety nets below, I did it for the win. It was terrifying. My team caught me without a struggle. As we sat catching our collective breath, our drill sergeant urged us to go all the way. He said, “It is exactly the same distance to reach the top!” And so after reaching our limit we stopped one level from the top. We could trust each other enough to do it once, but not twice. This softened the swagger of our fab four win.

MY TIE Moment: Trust will push us to our limits

     It is easy to say, “I trust God” and “I trust Jesus to save me,” but what about the diverse people who God so loves that He sent His only son for? (Jn. 3:16) In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus illustrates that even pagans are able to love and care for their friends, but God’s children are to love even their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. This tells me that God wants to include His children in the expression of His unlimited love to the world. When expressing God’s love to this world we must include His enemies. After all God included us when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:6-12) Loving our enemies certainly includes personal, national and cultural enemies. More than loving our personal enemies, we are to love those who are still enemies with God. Therefore, we are called to be more than grateful servants forgiven of a great debt of sin. We are ultimately called to grow characteristics that show we have the DNA of our heavenly Father.

     The church should be a place that a believing community pushes each other to grow God’s heart in our world that even calls His enemies to salvation. Learning grow beyond our boundaries of love should be an active component in our churches. I believe that “trust” grows our love to new dimensions. In my reflections, I have provided a Biblical “Tower of Trust” that puts to test our levels of trust in our fellow Christians who are maturing in their walk with God.

Level 1: 
Do not show favoritism in our churches (James 2:1-13).

Level 2: 
Encourage one another to cling tightly to God’s hope and at the same time loosen the grip of sins as we meet together (Hebrews 10:23-30).

Level 3: 
Crave nourishment of spiritual milk from God and His Word so that everyone can grow to the fullness of salvation (1 Peter 2:1-3).

Level 4: 
Love our fellow believers sacrificially just as Christ did (1 John 3:15-16).

Level 5: 
Live according to God’s Vision for our times (2 Peter 3:1-10). 

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