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Climbing the Wall

“Ok! Ok!” Yelled out one of our guides. He was trying, without much success, to get the attention of our agitated group. Our group, all students or professionals in the health field, had come to Belize to serve at a mobile health clinic. After a week of hard work, we were excited to have a lazy day off. But that excitement dissipated when we were informed that we would be spelunking into an ancient Mayan cave called Actun Tunichil Muknal (or ATM, for the layperson).

Eventually, our guides gained control of the group and lined us up, with our helmets securely fastened, ready to head into the jungle. Yes, that’s right, the jungle. Once our guides had gotten our buy-in, or in my case, resignation, they gently told us that in order to reach the ATM cave, we would have to take a “quick 2-mile hike” through the jungle. I let out my best “I’m too fabulous for this” sigh, but no one paid any attention to me. After our hike, we reached a clearing and were asked to divide into three groups. I noticed that we self selected into groups based on apparent skill: Those who were athletic, those who could hold their own, and the hot messes. I numbered among the hot messes. My group was comprised of the skill-less, the afraid, and the uncoordinated. We dubbed ourselves Team Luis (after our poor unfortunate guide who was forced to put up with us).

Team Luis entered ATM and hiked up, down, over and under rocks in the cave. We certainly didn’t look good, but we were doing it! As we passed obstacle after obstacle, we realized that spelunking wasn’t that scary! We trekked on until we reached a wall. THE END OF THE CAVE! WE HAD MADE IT!

“Team Luis! Team Luis!” we chanted as we hugged, high-fived and otherwise congratulated each other. We’d made it all the way to the end! It seemed too good to be true.

That’s because it was.

“No, guys.” Said our now-exasperated guide. “We have to climb up that wall.”

“Huh?” was the only thing I could manage to say.

We climbed. Luis instructed us to stay close behind him. To put our feet where his feet had been and our hands where his hands had been. For me, the climb up the wall was marked with fear and anxiety. But when I couldn’t see Luis, I could hear his voice. When the fear made it too difficult to hear Luis, one of my teammates gently encouraged me. Eventually, I found myself sitting on a landing at the top of the wall. I took a moment to appreciate the figurative walls (school, work, relationships) that God was asking me to climb. At that moment, they didn’t seem so scary.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3 NIV).

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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