In the beginning of September, I spent two weeks in Ireland with an amazing group of people. About a week before my trip, as I was leaving a friend’s house, my ankle rolled inward and I heard a loud triple pop followed by the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. I sat down immediately, unable to bear any weight on my right foot as waves of nausea swept over me from the pain. Initially, I thought my ankle was broken. I remember thinking, “This can’t be happening right now… I’m going to Ireland in a week… This can’t happen.” While Jon and Mike were inside working on getting me some ice, I asked Heidi to pray with me. As we prayed together, my nausea went away and the level of pain I’d been experiencing decreased. My ankle still hurt, but I was able to stand on it and carefully bear weight. I suspect if we had kept on praying, I would have been completely healed. Anyway, I iced my ankle on the ride home. The following morning, my foot was very swollen and bruised, but I was still able to stand and walk on it if I moved slowly, gingerly. So, instead of spending time and money at the doctor, I treated it as a severe sprain.
The week before my trip was spent icing, elevating, and supporting my ankle by wearing a brace. I also continued to do this as much as possible during the trip, especially during our first week in Ireland as the swelling would fluctuate from “looking better” in the mornings to “pretty swollen” in the evenings. On Day 2, when we climbed up into “our” fort in Carrick-En-Suir, I stepped into a hole in the grass and twisted my weak ankle which upped my pain level. Again, I felt like I couldn’t stand on it which really scared me as I considered the prospect of how I was going to get back down. The group prayed for me, and again, prayer made a huge difference. I was soon able to stand and carefully walk around.
After this incident, I was a little bit nervous about the possibility of injuring myself further as we explored Irish terrain. I was particularly concerned about Day 7 of our journey when we would be exploring the Cliffs of Moher. We would be hiking approximately 5 miles from Doolin to the top of the cliffs, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. Thankfully, Day 6 of our trip was the first day that my foot wasn’t more swollen in the evening then it had been in the morning. When I awoke on Day 7, my ankle felt the best that it had since my injury. I’m not an experienced hiker; and I admit to having an itty-bitty fear of heights. In truth, it’s not really the height that scares me as much as the idea of falling from a high place. If I feel secure, height is not an issue. Otherwise, I can get a bit shaky – all over. I can’t control it. It’s kind of like what used to happen to me in school whenever I had to give a book report or make a presentation in front of the class. I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking no matter how hard I willed them to stop. Under the best of conditions, I probably still would have been afraid of certain parts of this hike. However, the fact that I was going to try to do this with a sprained ankle had me extra nervous. I had to keep reminding myself that if Heidi could hike this path last year in flip flops, then I could certainly do it now in sneakers and an ankle brace.
As we set out on our hike, I proceeded with extra caution placing each step carefully. Pretty soon, I began to lag behind the rest of our group. When I noticed how far I had fallen behind, I began to inwardly panic. The following thoughts began running through my mind: “I’m going to be left behind… What if I slip? Nobody is near to help steady me… What if I fall and injure myself? Will anyone even notice? How would I even get down from here?… I could fall right off of these cliffs and DIE! And nobody would even know what happened!” Mentally, I freaked out, although I didn’t express any of my fears. This happened pretty early on in our hike, about 20 minutes into our journey or about an eighth of the way to the top. However, the thought of quitting and heading back to the van on my own didn’t seem like a viable option. So, again, I prayed. As I prayed, peace came over me and surrounded me. I was reminded of how God had protected me as I walked through a difficult situation earlier this year. I was reminded of His many promises over my life, and I knew that everything would be okay. I knew that I was safe. From that point on, I was calm and at peace. I was even able to considerably pick up the pace, because I was no longer afraid.
I must say that the group I traveled with was awesome! It was such a blessing to embark on this adventure with them, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that I wasn’t the only one who dealt with fear issues along the way. There were 8 of us on the hike, and only 2 of the 8 had previously hiked this path. We trusted them to lead the way, and get us to the top safely. Also, everyone was great about lending me a hand when needed. Sometimes help was freely offered and sometimes I needed to ask for it; but every time that we reached an area that was particularly steep or slippery, there was always someone there willing to lend a hand so that I wouldn’t fall. This didn’t only apply to me either; everyone did a great job looking out for each other.
When I think about hiking the Cliffs of Moher, I think about the life of faith – about what it’s like to live a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. Sometimes, it can be scary. You may even doubt your capability to follow the path laid out before you. When you are following the call of God on your life, you need to trust Him completely throughout the journey. Many times, He’ll tell you to go somewhere or to do something, but you won’t be able to see the end result. Your destination may be too far ahead to see with your natural eyes. So you need to keep stepping out in faith, trusting Him to lead you along the way. He knows what lies ahead, and He knows what path should be taken. As members of the body of Christ, we need to support each other and help each other not to fall. If you see somebody slipping, it’s important to offer them help. If you see somebody on unsteady ground, lend them a hand so that they don’t fall. As believers, this is how we’re supposed to be looking after each other. On the flip side, if you know that you’re weak, don’t be too afraid or too proud to ask for help. If you feel yourself losing your footing, turn to the brother or sister next to you and ask them to lend you a hand. It is important that we encourage each other, support each other, and pray for each other as we continue to let Holy Spirit lead us to our destination in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 – “We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”