She Didn’t Let Go

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The orange sun was dropping low on the horizon beyond the expansive reservoir of the Ubonrat Dam. From high up at one of our favorite mountaintop viewpoints, called Hin Chang Sri, JJ and I were taking cell-phone videos of Alina as she made her last rappelling run of the day down a 70-foot cliff below us. When she had descended about 20 feet, confident and in control, I raised the camera to take a brief panorama of the sunset and lake spread out far below. That’s when I heard a soft cry. “Dad! Dad!” The words floated up from below the ledge.

“What, Alina?” I called back, scurrying over to peek down.

“I got my hand stuck in the belay device!”

“You what?!” My heart skipped a beat and then began to race. There was my little girl hanging 50 feet over the forest floor with one hand pulling desperately at the rope above her ATC device and her other hand—her braking hand—stuck. The skin between her thumb and index finger was now stretched and painfully pinched between the rope and ATC device. Oh, why was she not wearing gloves?! “Hang on, Alina!!” I called down as I hurried over to where the rope disappeared over cliff’s edge. There was no time for me to anchor onto anything secure, except … “Jesus, help me!” I breathed as I crouched down. Grasping the taut climbing rope, I began to pull on it with all my might. Many fearful thoughts raced through my mind: What if my pulling is too jerky and it injures Alina’s hand even more? What if my desperate tugging causes her grip on the rope to slip? What if I lose my balance, or my feet or hands slip? What if, in her desperation to yank her braking hand free, she lets go of the lower part of the rope? Would she be able to grab a racing, burning rope again with her bare hands? Most of these and other fearful imaginings ended with her and/or myself lying on the forest floor! “Oh Jesus, help me help her!” I prayed as I leaned back and strained, pulling hand over hand. Finally, I saw her beautiful golden hair pop up over the ledge.

As Alina leaned forward into my arms, there were no words for several seconds, only heavy breathing and soft sobs as we collapsed back away from the ledge in a long sweat-and-tear-soaked embrace. “Thanks Dad!” she whispered.

“You’re welcome!” I breathed back. “Thank you Jesus!”

For me, this story is chock full of lessons, principles and spiritual analogies. I challenge you to think of a few and share them with your family and friends. Who are you in the story?

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