I can tell you the exact moment I regretted my decision. A few weeks prior, my daughter had announced that she wanted to go to a high ropes and zipline course with friends for her 11th birthday. I thought it would be a great activity; that is, until the moment I found myself three metres above the rainforest canopy on a platform with no railings, hugging a tree trunk.
I was fine during the safety briefing, and when the instructor fitted me with a harness and a special clip-and-release system that would ensure I was always connected to the safety line. I was even fine when I donned my hard hat and gloves and practised clipping on and off the fence line. It was only when I left the ground that I realised I was definitely not fine.
My daughter and her friends went first. They clambered up the ladder, transferred their safety clip to the overhead wire and skipped across the wobbly wooden bridge (with every second plank missing) with ease. Then it was my turn. Internally, I was conflicted. This was a major tourist attraction at a well-known wildlife park. Their risk assessment was thorough, with thousands of people going through the course every year. Psychologically, I knew I was safe, but I didn’t feel safe. At more than double the weight of the girls, I felt sure the wire wasn’t strong enough to hold me. The ground was so far away. I was going to lose my balance and fall. There was no way I could do this!
But then I took my first wobbly step onto the bridge. I may have clung to the safety line above my head for dear life, but step-by-careful-step I made my way to the other side. I did it! I celebrated, possibly too enthusiastically given the relative low height of the bridge. Crucially though, it gave me confidence to finish the course. And you know what? I had an absolute blast in the end.
So, what was the secret to my success? How did I go from a quaking bundle of fear to a carefree, adventure seeker? Was it that I’d suddenly transformed into a balancing, light-footed, tree-climbing ninja? In reality, the transformation had nothing to do with my skill level or capability. It came down to one simple fact: I trusted the safety line.
The experience of salvation
One of the most fundamental pillars of the Christian faith revolves around a big word: salvation. Simply put, it is the process by which we become aware of a dark, corrupting influence that degrades the beauty of both the world and us. We then recognise the solution to that problem: Jesus Christ. By putting our trust in Him, we accept Jesus as our Brother, and are welcomed into the family of God. The cost of this corruption (called sin by Christians) was paid in full by Him, on our behalf. Through Jesus’ sacrificial life and death, we are made right before God, adopted as His sons and daughters, and rescued from the slavery of sin. As a result, you and I can live today as brand–new humans.
This is, of course, wonderful news! But it’s one thing to know the process by which we are saved. It’s an entirely different thing to feel like we are saved. Many Christians around the world are comfortable talking about the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and the way His life and death provides redemption for all, but do we really believe it? Just like me clinging to the tree trunk high above the ground, life has a way of making us question whether what we believe is true. Can I really trust the safety line of salvation by faith? I’ve heard that God’s grace is for everyone, but after all the things I’ve done, does that really include me?
Thankfully, we’re not the first to wrestle with these questions. The Bible is full of people who were equally awed and perplexed by the process of salvation. Moses doubted his calling and insisted God find an alternative. Peter was sure he’d blown it when he denied he even knew Jesus. The apostle Paul wrestled with his violent past throughout his life. Having once been a persecutor of followers of Jesus, Paul experienced radical transformation that could only be the work of God. But it’s almost like he needed to regularly remind himself of that fact. Consider Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There used to be condemnation. For sins. For transgressions. For selfishness. For deceit. For destructive anger. But now? If we are in Christ Jesus; if we accept His life and death as a substitute for our own—there is no condemnation!
It’s such a simple concept and yet it’s so hard to fully embrace. In a society that celebrates self-made millionaires and idolises personal growth, it’s hard to escape the DIY approach. In case you need more evidence that this is a gift and not something we do ourselves, consider Titus 3:4,5:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (NRSV).
It’s the mercy of God, through the life and death of Jesus, that saves us and changes our hearts. The truth is that salvation is your safety line, if you accept it. If you do, it’ll be the thing that keeps you from falling. You might stumble and trip. You might even lose your footing and feel like you can’t hold on. The good news is that your safety line—the grace of God—is holding you. You can know with certainty that you are saved, not because of anything you have done but because of everything that Jesus has done for you. You don’t have to work towards your own rescue; rather, you can live a life of joy and freedom right now, with the future promise of eternal life.
Understanding salvation is one of the most profound and life-changing journeys you can go on. When you truly understand what Jesus Christ did for you, you are released to become all He has called you to be. By staying connected to Him, your entire being will be transformed. The things that matter to God’s heart will matter to you. You’ll see the world the way God sees it. The way you treat people will reflect the way Jesus treated people. Just as I soared through the rainforest canopy, trusting the safety line gives you a new perspective. It allows you to take risks, enjoy the scenery and encourage others on their journey.
When we understand the power that comes with trusting God, and the saving power of His infinite love and mercy, it won’t matter the circumstances, or how high or low life takes us. It won’t matter if there’s only a single wire to cling to. It won’t matter if the steps move, or our footing is uncertain. Our security won’t come from anything we do but from what Jesus has already done for us.
If you believe in Jesus, you are saved. It’s that simple. Now trust the safety line and go become who He has called you to be!
Karen Collum is an Australian children’s author, chaplain and theology student. She lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland.