By Joyanna Ratcliff | October 19, 2019
It was a beautiful sunny day when I picked up my backpack and buckled it on. It was my first backpacking trip in four years, and I was excited. After a short, two mile hike, the forest opened in front of us and we descended onto the beach. We hiked to the end of and reached a place where the beach was permanently impassible, and we had to climb over a point to continue hiking. It was up a steep, dirt, cliff-like hill, but there were ropes secured to a tree at the top for us to hold onto. “That was fun!” I exclaimed when we reached the top. We continued over the ridge to the next beach and reached our campsite early.
Two days later, we were awakened by the sound of rain. We had planned to hike halfway out and finish the next day but decided to hike all the way out to avoid setting up camp in the rain. We disassembled our tents, stuffed our backpacks and began hiking back down the beach. When we reached the first point, we clambered up the muddy hill, and hiked across to where we could look down on the beach below. The trail down the bluff now looked muddy, I noted as I picked up the rope and began slowly descending the hill, backwards, tightly clasping the rope. “Lean back!” My dad shouted down to me. “Lean back and trust the rope.” Trust. I needed to trust the rope. I leaned back and continued down. I slipped a few times, but finally made it down.
The second point that we came to we had walked around two days before, but now the waves were huge, and we had to cross it overland. I groaned inwardly. I was not looking forward to another rope descent. Too soon we stood at the crest, surveying the beach below. This hill was longer and steeper than the first. My dad descended, and I tightly picked up the muddy rope and started down. “It’s muddier than the other hill, too,” I realized, “but I can do it.” “Joyanna, lean back!” came my dad’s call from the bottom. “Okay,” I said and leaned farther back. “Lean back,” my brother called from the top. “I am!” I responded. “I’m leaning back far enough,” I thought rebelliously. I slipped and had to scramble to my feet. I hesitantly leaned even farther back, still not completely trusting the rope, but I slipped, fell, and slid the rest of the way to the ground.
What is trust? David said, “In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness.” (Psalm 31:1). The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that it is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.” David trusted completely in God when King Saul hunted him and tried to kill him; he was at peace because he knew that God was taking care of him. He had surrendered his life to God and trusted Him to take care of him.
One of my favorite Bible verses says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It’s not always easy, though! Too often when I have my devotions in the morning, I surrender my life to God, then part way through my day realize that I’ve taken it back. I’ve forgotten to completely trust the rope, and in the process of trying to maintain my own foothold in case it fails, have removed my weight from the one thing that can truly save me. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). Will you lean back and trust the Rope?
Joyanna Ratcliff is a high school student who enjoys reading, sewing, and playing the piano; she also helps coordinate music for the Cashmere SDA Church. When she has an opportunity, Joyanna loves birding and hiking in the nearby Cascades.