Yesterday was a lovely lazy day. It was a public holiday here in Brisbane, and in the afternoon, as the rain poured down Geoff and I watched murder mysteries in between making minestrone soup for tea. Why is it that we love having soup on a cold and wet winter’s day? Of course, it warms up the body doesn’t it? Yummy!
In the meantime while waiting for tea, I was pottering around and reading about people who love to take risks. You know, the type of people I mean? They want to sky dive out of planes or bungee jump from the Tower of Terror or the like. It made me start thinking about my own aversion to taking physical risks.
Sure, as a child, I loved those rides that frighten the living daylights out of older people. There was one called the Tilt-a-Whirl. Oh, how my sisters and I would count the days until the Show came to town so that we could have endless rides on the best ride of its time: The Tilt-a-Whirl.
But … all that has changed now. No more twirling on Tilt-a-Whirls these days. What happens when you get older? You can’t stand heights, let alone anything that goes so fast it’s likely to propel you into the air, as happened recently in Brisbane when a young boy was thrown from one of those rides in a freaky accident. Miraculously, he is still alive and it seems he is recovering well.
So dear friends, a memory stirred of an incident on holiday in Cairns in 2005 when my husband Geoff (who likes a bit of a thrill) wanted me to ride one of those gondolas that go from the top of the mountain down to the bottom.
Now, there were two ways of getting to the top of the mountain: by an old-time train or by the gondola method. Most people would go up by train and come back down by gondola, but I would have none of it. No, I wanted to go both ways by train! Geoff was most upset about this and tried to get me to change my mind.
Friends, I was so terrified that I couldn’t even discuss it with him … but as I watched his distress at not riding the gondola, I prayed a prayer for help. Yep, when all else fails, say a prayer. It’s a great motto! So I shot off one of those spur of the moment prayers that always seems to get answered because it is so heartfelt:
“Lord, if you want me to take a risk and go on this gondola chair lift, you will have to make it happen. I am far too scared to even think about it.”
So off we went to book our train ride and as the gentleman was putting us down for the train to go UP the mountain, he asked how we would come down. I replied: “oh, by the train.” Well, this gentleman just looked at me and said: “you have to be kidding, no way!” and promptly put us down to catch the gondola back down.
He would not have a bar of it … he was so insistent that I immediately KNEW the first part of my prayer had been answered! Now, all I had to do was have the nerve to actually get on the thing to come home when the time came … at the end of the day.
I was nervous all day thinking about that gondola dangling on a wire. But, in all fairness, I kept putting it out of my mind telling myself that despite how I felt, God would come to my rescue. How … I had absolutely no idea! So eventually, the day came to an end and we were lined up to get into the bubble compartment of the gondola.
We stood behind an older couple like us. They were very friendly and I felt better while we were talking because I could forget about how terrified I was … that is until the man tried to make me feel better by saying “Do you know we went on one of these things in Indonesia a few years ago, and the very next day, there was an accident and a gondola went down killing all six people inside of it!”
When I tried to tell this man that I did not want to hear any more (I was almost hyperventilating at this point) he just continued on with all the gory details. His wife told him to stop, but no, there was no stopping him. He was on a roll by now. I had to block my ears and threaten him in order to get him to stop! Finally they got on a gondola before us and were gone.
Next, the attendant lined up four Japanese high school students to get on the next gondola and waved Geoff and me to get on with them. They couldn’t speak a word of English and I was reluctant to go with them. I needed to talk to people to forget my fear and in that moment of hesitation, a man cut in front of us and said to the attendant “No, put these people on the next gondola with me.”
I was shocked but they seemed to know him and took notice. When the next gondola came along, the man, who was dressed in tradesman clothes and was carrying a big container of tools, ushered us into the gondola and hopped aboard with us.
As he sat down he said: “I am the maintenance man in charge of these gondolas, and I’m going down the mountain to get my lunch. I saw that you were nervous and thought you might feel better with someone like me who knows how to fix things than with a bunch of Japanese kids who can’t speak English!”
I was gobsmacked. Wow!! What was going on here? I couldn’t believe my good fortune. As we glided calmly down the mountain, he entertained us with stories: about the falls and about his life going up and down gondolas. Oh, he was wonderful! I felt so safe. How could I do better than be with the man who fixes things when they go wrong?
At this point, most of my fears faded significantly as we chatted and come down the mountain. Once on the ground, the reality of what had happened hit me. My prayer had been heard … heard in a way I could never have imagined or engineered for myself. It was so astounding that I scarce could take it in. My gratitude knew no bounds and much thanksgiving went up for my rescue from fear that day.
You know dear friends, people say that they don’t believe in all this stuff about praying and about God, but it is at times like this, when God manifests himself in such a way, that one is reassured that there is SOMEONE far greater than us … call ‘it’ what you may … that comes to our rescue if we but ask for help and believe it will come.
I will never forget the lessons I learned that day … and I cannot believe how good it felt to take one little moderate risk …