A few years ago, my family and I attended our first family reunion. It was four days of sleeping in tents, eating good food and sharing family stories. We flew to Ohio to meet aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins that we hadn’t seen in years–some we’ve never met. It was a special time.
It was also a time for me relax and enjoy some time with Caleb, who was 6 years old at the time. In between flying kites and swimming in the pond, Caleb and I found time to do some fun things together. One of those activities was climbing trees. Since we don’t have too many “climbing trees” at our home in Texas, we took full advantage of the tall trees in Ohio.
“Daddy, let’s go climb that one,” asked Caleb.
We darted over to the small apple tree. Caleb crawled his way up into the first clump of limbs. I was right behind him, making sure he didn’t fall or lose his grip. Like an experienced climber, he surveyed the various branches and footholds. He grabbed a limb with one hand, slid his foot into the next branch and up he went. I was impressed. He was both confident and cautious. Again, I followed his climb, just in case he needed me.
Finally, he had reached his limit. He couldn’t quite grasp that next level of branches. “Well Caleb,” I said proudly, “this is quite high.”
“But Daddy, I want to go higher.” He pointed to two branches about four feet up. “Right there! That’s where I want to go.”
After making sure it was safe, I decided to help him to that next level. I positioned my knee as a new step for him and held on as he pulled himself upward. In one quick movement, he made his way up to the top. He stood there confidently, looking around at the view as if he were on top of the world.
After a few proud minutes, it was time to crawl down. But Caleb quickly realized that he was in a place where he couldn’t get down by himself. “Daddy, you have to help me. I can’t do this by myself.” As I began to help him down, he just kind of fell into my arms, trusting me to catch him all the way. Moving cautiously, we eventually worked our way down.
When I think about this battle with anxiety and panic attacks, we often find ourselves up a tree that we can’t get down. Fear grips our mind as we try to figure out how to “get down”. We survey all of the possible escapes, but nothing seems to work. I believe this is where we need to cry out to our Father just a Caleb did, saying: “Daddy, you have to help me. I can’t do this by myself.”
But, that’s not all. After our cries for help, we must take the next step–fall limp into the arms of our Father in heaven who is waiting there to catch us. We can pray and ask and cry out for help, but if we cling to the branches of worldly security, then we will never experience the peace that God has for us.
Prayer: Father, I need you to catch me. I need to just fall into your arms. The fear and anxiety have gripped my mind and I have nowhere to climb down. Help me just to rest in you.