Nathan’s one of twenty or so kids who came on the City Church retreat with us last weekend. At 11 years old he’s the man of the house and does his best to be helpful for his mom and two sisters. They attend elementary school where we worship on Sundays, and a year ago he and his family met Jesus through our Kids Camp and were baptized. Now they are all learning to follow Jesus like the rest of us, one faltering step at a time.
Despite dozens of us cheering for him Saturday afternoon, the rock climbing wall didn’t go so well for Nathan. And the zipline went worse: he had made it half way up to the launching station when he lost his nerve. So he skittered down and stumbled off to his cabin in tears.
But Greg, one of the dads on the retreat, wandered into the cabin later and saw Nathan sulking on the top bunk. After finding out what happened, Greg said, “Hey, I noticed last night you were folding your hands and praying up there on your bunk before bed. That was pretty awesome to see you do that. How about we pray about the zipline?”
There’s just something about a man speaking into a boy’s life that can flip a switch.
They prayed together on their bunks, and before the ‘amen’ Nathan was climbing down. “I’ve got to do this with God,” he told Greg as he sped out of the cabin and back up the mountain to the zipline.
Nathan interrupted Patsy (another leader at City Church) as she was putting on the safety harness and asked if he could take her place. She’d seen the earlier failures and could tell this was a crucial moment, especially when Nathan said, “I gotta trust God this time.”
Nathan became a little bit more of a man on Saturday – not just facing his failures and not just conquering his fear of heights, but courageously allowing his community to embrace him and trusting the God who catches us when we fall.
The screams coming from the zipline as Nathan flew down the mountainside were from sheer joy. We were sure of that because he was the only kid at camp who rode the zipline twice. (HERE is the 20 second video of Nathan’s first ride)