Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Life Changing Experience by Susan L.

  Several years ago I had the pleasure of spending an extended time in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Towards the end of my stay, I decided to check out the Ruakuri caves or should I say, the Lord placed the desire in my heart.
  I am claustrophobic. This was the last thing on earth I would ever want to do.
  My arrival was divinely orchestrated so there was only an hour to spare before the tour started. Just enough time to check into the local hostel. Just enough time that there wasn't enough time to think about backing out.
  The four hour tour I chose was their most intensive one that included rappelling down 150 feet through a small opening in the earth (barely wide enough for my shoulders). There was black water rafting which was sitting in an inner tube and drifting lazily down the underground river. A zip line was used to get down another massive cliff. It was a leap of faith into the pitch black.
  It was black. Our miner's headlamps barely pierced the sunless nether world that pressed in all around. Glow worms gleamed like underground stars.
  The group was small consisting of the guide, a newly wed couple, a single woman on a "freedom trip" as well as a teenaged girl. Most of the time I was in the rear of our expedition. Being the eldest, being a mom, made it a natural fit because it enabled me to help the guide out as needed. This also helped me fight against my own fears of enclosed spaces.
  There are a few things that have remained as vivid as the day I went on this definitely out of character adventure.
  After abandoning the inner tubes, there was a spot where the river ran within a few inches of the cave roof. To breathe meant holding your head at an angle as you swam through the deep water. The guide gave me option B that bypassed this particular area. I took option B.
  Another small, bowl-like cave had a roaring waterfall in the centre. It hammered at our feet as we perched precariously around the outside waiting for our turn to climb up and out of the bowl. The noise was deafening, drowning out any possibility of conversation. The anxious claws of claustrophobia shredded my calm. What seemed like molasses hours was probably only a few minutes. It was the only spot I couldn't be last to get out of.
  There was a fairly long area that involved swimming. This time the cave roof was so far overhead, our headlamps didn't reach it. The tour company had fastened ropes along the cave side so we could pull our wet-suit hampered bodies along against the current. The young girl lost her grip. She started panicking as water filled her lungs. The guide and the rest of the group were far ahead so I reached out and grabbed her, pulling her to the edge where the rope was. She grabbed hold, coughing and spluttering before finally catching her breath.
  We would meet later at the hostel where her aunt was waiting for her. She introduced me and told her aunt that I had saved her life.
  Maybe that was why the Lord insisted I make this journey.
  Or maybe it was because, after more than four hours of exhausting exercise, climbing, swimming, and ducking under the weight of the earth we came to the end.
  Coming around a smoothly sculpted corner of the tunnel, utterly exhausted, my spirits soared. The sunlight danced a water ballet on the walls and ceiling of the cave as it streamed in through a barely big enough exit hole. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
  That heavenly vision of an earthly place has come to mind often. It has comforted me when life has been at its darkest, when the weight of the world presses down. It has encouraged me to keep going because I know that eventually I'll see the sun again.
 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no on can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." Eccl 3:11

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