High Africa

Though I’ve been high on Africa since arriving about three weeks ago, this experience was definitely one of my favorites! On Friday we all loaded into a 23 passenger van and headed out of Cape Town into “the bush” for a weekend of team building and bonding. We had no idea what to expect, but when we arrived at “High Africa,” we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we would be staying in quaint cabins/huts next to a beautiful river.

Our guide for the weekend affably welcomed us with a warning about the poisonous snakes that tend to live in the area. As one of my fellow participants entered into a minor panic attack, he reassured us that if we stayed on the paths we would be just fine… (Luckily, we didn’t encounter any snakes over the course of the weekend, but we did, however, find a spider the size of a golf ball crawling on the ceiling of one of the cabins!)

The Long Walk to Freedom

Our first activity was the low ropes course, which was appropriately called “the long walk to freedom” (the title of Nelson Mandela’s biography). The task was to get everyone from one platform to another through a series of obstacles. Bonding definitely happened…in more ways than expected. It was wonderful to see how well our group worked together! I am so thankful for every single individual in my program. The strong encouragement, enthusiasm, communication, and trust that I witnessed this weekend was an indication to me of the close family we are sure to become by the end of the semester!

Throughout the weekend, we did several orientation sessions and other activities including the high ropes course, swimming in the river, overindulging in delicious African food, roasting marshmallows around the campfire, watching the sunrise over the mountains, and rock climbing. Our final activity was called “the leap of faith” in which we climbed up a ladder, shimmied out to the middle of a log, and jumped toward a bar hanging several meters in front of us. Dania, one of my dear friends, was absolutely petrified and began to tremble with fear as she reached the top of the ladder. She called out to Mark, our guide, and pleaded with him to let her down.

Sunrise

Though Mark reassured her that she was absolutely secure in her harness and that he would not let go of her, fear continued to grip her heart. In that moment, Mark said something profound: “Keep your eyes on me.” Immediately, when she locked her eyes upon his, a sense of peace flooded her heart. However, as she began to steadily make her way to the middle of the log, I noticed that the moment she took her eyes off of Mark and saw how high she was off of the ground, fear and panic came flooding back. Though I didn’t realize it right away, the Lord was using this situation to illustrate something powerful to me…

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:28-31

Ore, Dania, and I getting geared up for high ropes

Like Peter, Dania was willing to step out of the boat and face her fear when her eyes were fixed on Mark. However, when she took her eyes off of him and focused instead on the terrifying circumstances around her, she too began to sink in fear, crying for Mark to save her. And throughout the past few weeks, the Lord has been unearthing certain fears that I’ve been harboring for years. Sometimes I feel as though I’m sinking in the muck and mire and that there’s nothing that can save me from my weakness, my failure, and insecurity.

But then I realized that these fears and worries only surface the moment my eyes wander from the Lord’s! How could I have been so blind? Yes, there may be a million things that weigh upon and distract my gaze, but the key to overcoming them is simple: stop staring at them! In Hebrews 12, it says that we are to run life’s race with our eyes “fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.” Tozer does not overlook the reality of this aim however: “At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous person, quietly and without strain. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him, the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window” (The Pursuit of God, 84).

How sweet it would be to one day lift my inward eyes to constantly gaze upon God expecting to meet his friendly eyes gazing back at me! I don’t want to be distracted by whatever wind and waves may come my way! Should a hurricane take my house, family, money, and every possession tomorrow, would I still be able to stand with my eyes lifted to the heavens and bless the name of the Lord? No. But that’s the unwavering faithful gaze of the dove’s eyes that I yearn for. He has called me out of the boat. I’m in Africa for goodness sake! But now the question is, will my eyes be on Him or on the waves?

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:3-4

The whole crew

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dad
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 13:18:02

    Hey Hon,

    Sounds and looks like you had a great experience team building and bonding with the group. What a great adventure you are on and we pray that you continue to have a safe and healthy time down there.
    Your Aunt Debbie will soon be in Israel walking in the footsteps of Jesus and serving and ministering to others there. Please keep her in your prayers.

    Love always, Dad

    Reply

  2. Robin
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 16:54:51

    I enjoy reading your adventures. Here is the bible quote for the day on my desk at work: If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. John 10:37-38
    Enjoy your journey everyday –

    Reply

  3. Janet
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 18:35:33

    It is incredible the ways in which God is teaching you and demonstrating His power and love to you. He is transforming you by the renewal of your mind! I think that too often we do focus on other things… Ever since my sophomore year in high school Hebrews 12:2 has been my favorite verse, but I haven’t really been living it. This is a profound message that everyone can learn from!

    Reply

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